Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Karl W. Smith

How This Trade War Will Remake the World

As China and the U.S. form competing coalitions, other nations and businesses will be forced to choose.

This dispute is about a lot more than trade.

This dispute is about a lot more than trade.

Photographer: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP

President Donald Trump has long said the goal of his trade policy is simply to get better deals for Americans. But as the trade war intensifies, it seems increasingly likely that his policies will lead to something more: a lasting break with China and a new alignment of global power.

First, consider the evidence for the break. The current impasse in trade talks was sparked by a sudden change in terms on the part of the Chinese negotiators. This change likely caught the administration off guard, but Trump’s response is notable: He immediately ramped up tariffs, then announced a ban on business with Chinese telecommunications firm and national champion Huawei Technologies Co.