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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Congressional lawmakers want to end normal trade relations with China

Mar 24, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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There are separate efforts in Congress to end normal trade relations between the United States and China. While the two bills by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., are slightly different, they would both significantly increase tariffs on goods imported into the United States from China.

The lawmakers believe increasing the tariffs will hurt China economically and give the United States an advantage.

“As an exporting economy, their survivability economically is completely dependent on how much of their goods they can send to the United States,” Rep. Smith said.

How much would tariffs increase?

If either of the bills are approved, popular items the U.S. imports from China would see tariff increases. 

  • Video game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation would go from being tariff-free to 35%. 
  • The $200 million of dog and cat food imported annually would increase from 0% to 10%. 
  • The $23 billion of furniture and bedding that’s currently tariff-free in most cases would be 40% for items like wooden dining tables and cribs, and 45% for a light fixture.

“We don’t want to get any more dependent on China than we already are. That’s why this step is necessary, right now. Rebuild our manufacturing base, strengthen our working class, take on China,” Sen. Hawley said.

Here’s where the proposals differ

Smith’s proposal links U.S.-China trade relations to human rights. Every year, the U.S. would have to examine China’s human rights record and determine that the CCP is improving in its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. If there is no improvement, the tariffs remain at the increased level. It used to be that way until President Bill Clinton delinked human rights from trade with China in 1994.

“We’re talking about a country in China that has so excelled in human rights abuse, torture, forced abortion, religious persecution, like almost nowhere else on Earth,” Rep. Smith said.

Hawley’s bill is focused on American workers. It would automatically increase tariffs as described earlier and give the president the authority to make them even higher.

Previous tariff increases

China has a history of retaliating after the United States increases tariffs. For instance, when former President Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum in 2018, China responded with increases on fruits, meats, wine, tubing, piping and more. 

But the lawmakers aren’t concerned about that kind of retaliation.

“Let them follow through on it,” Rep. Smith said. “We should not be aiding and abetting an economy that props him up. And by him, I mean Xi Jinping, and by extension, the entire Chinese Communist Party.”

“We are already too dependent on China. We found that on COVID. I mean where are much of our critical supply chains located, China, where are too many of our medical supply chains located, China, again, our manufacturing China,” Sen. Hawley said.

Both lawmakers strongly disagree with the decision to allow China into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. They believe China’s WTO admittance, along with normalizing trade relations, has led to lost jobs in the United States as companies moved overseas for cheaper labor.

If Hawley’s bill is approved, it will take effect in two years. Smith’s legislation would take effect immediately.

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There are separate efforts in Congress to end normal trade relations between the United States in China. 

The two bills by Congressman Chris Smith and Senator Josh Hawly are slightly different. But if passed, they would both significantly increase tariffs on goods imported into the United States from China. 

Chris Smith: “As an export economy, their survivability economically is completely dependent on how much of their goods they can send to United States.”

Here’s how much tariffs would increase on popular items the US imports from China. 

Video game consoles like XBox and PlaySation would go from being tariff-free to 35%. 

The 200 million dollars of dog and cat food we import annually would increase from zero to ten percent.

The 23 billion dollars of furniture and bedding that’s currently free in most cases would be 40% for items like wooden dining tables and cribs and 45% for a light fixture. 

 

Hawley: “we don’t want to get any more dependent on China than we already are. That’s why this step is necessary right now rebuild our manufacturing base, strengthen our working class, take on China.”

Here’s where the proposals differ. Smith’s bill links US-China trade relations to human rights. So every year, the US would have to examine China’s human rights record and determine that the CCP is making improvements in it’s treatment of Uyghur muslims and other ethnic minorities. If there’s no improvement, the tariffs remain at the increased level. It used to be that way until President Bill Clinton de-linked human rights from trade with China in 1994. 

Chris Smith: “We’re talking about a country in China that has so excelled in human rights, abuse, torture, forced abortion, religious persecution, like almost nowhere else on earth.”

Senator Hawley’s bill is focused on American workers. It would automatically increase tariffs as described earlier and give the President the authority to make them even higher. 

Ray: “Oftentimes, when the United States puts on sanctions or tariffs on China, they reciprocate and come back on us. Does that impact us in any way, shape or form? “

Smith: “I think, I think that threat and let them follow through on it. We should not be aiding and abetting an economy that props him up. And by him, I mean, Xi Jinping, and by extension, the entire Chinese Communist Party.”

 

Hawley isn’t worried about a tit-for-tat either. 

Hawley: “We are already too dependent on China. We found that on COVID. I mean, where is much of a Where are much of our critical supply chains located China. Where are too many of our medical supply chains located China, again, our manufacturing China.” 

 

If Hawley’s bill is approved, it won’t take effect for two years. Smith’s legislation would take effect immediately. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.