Who'd have thought Americans could learn something useful from official Chinese propaganda — let alone from a cartoon bean? A new video by a Chinese government media outlet features an English-speaking cartoon soybean explaining why the trade war started by President Donald Trump is bad for Americans.
The scariest part? That talking bean makes a lot more sense on trade than the president does.
Trump on July 6 imposed $34 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports to the United States. There have been legitimate concerns about China's trade practices. But as with immigration, foreign policy and other areas, Trump is more interested in chest-thumping than problem-solving and as a result he's made the problems worse. To the surprise of no one, China retaliated against Trump's tariffs with the same tariff level on American products going there, including soybeans.
Trump is now pondering $200 billion more in potential new tariffs against China. We are living the very definition of a trade war.
One of China's weapons in that war is a cartoon video posted in mid-July on the website of China Global Television Network, part of state-owned China Central Television. The 2-minute video, in English with Chinese subtitles, features a cheerful yellow soybean who explains the properties and uses of soybeans while colorful illustrations swirl around him. (The renditions of Trump are priceless). Then he explains the economic realities of the trade war.
"Most of the U.S.'s soybean exports — 62 percent — go to China," notes the bean. "More expensive soy could mean that China will look to other sources for the bulk of its imports. ... Brazil and Argentina could pick up the slack. If that happens, soybean farmers in the U.S. could take an even greater hit."
Yes, the bean is getting a little threatening there. Then he delves, astutely, into the nuances of American electoral politics, suggesting that Trump has launched this trade war to whip up his base in advance of the midterm elections.
"But the funny thing is that those voters whom Trump thinks will rally behind his trade actions will be hurt by this conflict," the bean explains. "That's because China's retaliatory response in raising tariffs on soybeans will affect the top 10 soybean-producing states in the U.S. Nine of them supported Trump in the 2016 presidential elections."
The bean then asks, ominously: "Will voters there turn out to support Trump and the Republicans once they get hit in the pocketbooks?"
Good question. Here's another one: What does it say when a communist propaganda cartoon provides a more accurate assessment of the economic and political ramifications of this unnecessary trade war than anything coming out of the White House?