Is Trump's criticism of China justified?

Donald Trump has underpinned his "America first" policy by announcing steep tariffs on imports of foreign washing machines and solar panels. He said that production of these and other products was so heavily subsidised that US industry was suffering as a result. China, whose trade policies Trump has repeatedly criticised, will be hit hardest by the move. Europe's media discuss whether it was warranted.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

At last someone has said what needed to be said!

It's good that someone is openly addressing the problems, Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“Perhaps the US president is the only one who can do this because his lack of sensitivity makes him one of the few protagonists who simply doesn't care what the leadership in Beijing thinks about him. If the Europeans want to avoid a trade war in which everyone loses in the end it shouldn't turn up its nose at Trump but try to get him to tone things down while at the same time backing him verbally.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

This conflict needs a different approach

Trump is right in what he says but not in his approach, writes Tages-Anzeiger:

“[China's] preferred instrument nowadays is subsidising exports to give Chinese companies an unfair advantage. Other countries are copying China. Trump is right to take action here. The problem is his choice of strategy. Trump wouldn't be Trump if he tried to resolve the conflict according to the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He's seeking victory through battle. But with tariffs he's not just hurting the American customers, his unilateral measures will provoke reactions. China will retaliate hit by hit. And conflicts in which both sides want to show they're the strongest escalate all too easily. This would deal a fatal blow to the global economy, which is just recovering and starting to grow properly now.”

Delo (SI) /

Europe should take the alternative approach

The trade war between Washington and Beijing is also an opportunity for Europe, Delo finds:

“In view of this conflict between the two major trade rivals, the time has come for Europe to start thinking about its own economic and political identity and to position itself quickly so that it's where it wants to be in ten to fifteen years. Europe could lead the way towards a more responsible form of globalisation, fairer trade and a future with more solidarity among states. Europe could define new production standards and upgrade trade. Then there won't be any need for a war.”