The head of the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on Friday slammed what he called President Donald Trump’s “unsophisticated response” to China’s ambitions and called for a major recalibration of U.S. policies.
Chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat, urged the future administration of fellow-Democrat Joe Biden to formulate a package of programs and investment to counterbalance China, including through re-energized cooperation with European allies.
Instead of pausing trade talks to focus first on domestic issues, as Biden has said he plans to do, Neal urged the new administration to embrace European overtures to hammer out a new broad trade deal with Europe.
Neal’s comments come a day after Biden chose Katherine Tai – the committee’s chief trade lawyer – to be his chief U.S. trade negotiator. Biden is due to introduce Tai and other top nominees on Friday.
Tai played a key role in pressing the Republican Trump administration to add stronger labor and environmental provisions to the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal, a deal Neal said provided a framework for wider trade ties with Europe.
“A new U.S.-European trade arrangement will only enhance our ability to moderate China’s intensifying pursuit of growth and prosperity, which threatens to subject the rest of the world to its economic and political dominance,” he said.
Neal said China was poised to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy in 2024, even as it continued to force the assimilation of minority Uighurs, crack down on democracy in Hong Kong and threaten to invade Taiwan.
The Trump administration’s “narrow fixation on tariffs and exclusions missed the forest for the trees,” and had little impact on China’s behavior, he added.
Trump has imposed extra tariffs on Chinese goods, drawn up a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies and imposed sanctions on Chinese officials to cement his tough-on-China legacy.