Trump just showed his hand in the trade war

Now Beijing knows for sure the Trump administration has a low threshold for economic and political pain

President Trump and Chinese farming.
(Image credit: Illustration | STR/AFP/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image)

President Trump may have just saved Christmas, but he also undercut his trade war with China. While the United States will still likely extend tariffs of 10 percent to $300 billion in Chinese imports, the U.S. Trade Representative said Tuesday that it will delay new tariffs on smartphones, laptop computers, and toys due to "health, safety, national security, and other factors." Of course, Trump decided to again say the quiet part out loud, telling reporters, "We're doing this for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers."

There must be smiles all around in the northern Chinese resort town of Beidaihe on the Yellow Sea where China's leaders are summering. Trump can try to claim the holiday delay is also an "olive branch" to the communist vacationers, but that's unlikely to fool anyone other than Fox News diehards. After all, Beijing has likely been counting on the Trump administration having a low threshold for just the sort of economic and political pain that's inevitable from a major trade conflict.

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