Corey Lewandowski: With Trump's tariffs, China's cheating and stealing is over

Corey Lewandowski: With Trump's tariffs, China's cheating and stealing is over
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The global economy is rigged, and China is the country behind the curtain.

During the campaign, President Donald J. Trump argued that China was an “economic enemy” and the country has “taken advantage of us like nobody in history.”  President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE’s crackdown on China should come as no surprise to anybody following the record tally of kept promises by the president. Free trade does not work when one country refuses to abide by the rules.

For years, Chinese companies have hacked, cheated, and robbed American companies, luring them across the Pacific with promises of market access and low operating costs, only to betray those promises by turning around and stealing the American firms’ intellectual property (IP). The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimates that IP theft costs our country at least $225 billion, and up to $600 billion, every year.

American presidents and Congress have sat idly by. Instead of protecting our firms, they praise our so-called peaceful “economic engagement” with China.

Meanwhile, China profits. In critical industries it requires American companies to enter into joint ventures with majority-Chinese ownership in order to do business, allowing the Chinese access to proprietary American information that quickly finds its way to local Chinese companies. This market distortion, along with arcane licensing procedures, forced technology transfer, and exhaustive Chinese government oversight, reel in unsuspecting American firms. And when these unfair restrictions don’t do the trick, China resorts to outright criminality. The new wind turbines blanketing the Chinese countryside? Many of them were built using source code stolen from American Superconductor.

In targeting American technologies and intellectual property, China harvests our country’s innovative bounty, not only for profit but also for strategic geopolitical gain.

Consider the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025”, a 2015 report laying out how Beijing intends in the next decade to create globally competitive firms in critical industries such as advanced microchips, driverless cars and robotics. The Chinese government explicitly states that its goal is to dominate these industries, including those related to defense.

Under the false flag of free market capitalism, Chinese state-owned enterprises have systematically acquired American and European firms working in advanced technology, nuclear reactors, robotics, aviation, and more. It’s a double whammy: we lose the edge in national self-defense, and China’s defense and technology sectors reap the fruits of both American and Chinese industriousness.

This is not the friendly behavior of a peaceful trading partner. That’s why on Thursday, President Trump took the monumental step of imposing $50 billion in tariffs on China as a measure of economic self-defense. Guess what, it is already working. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that U.S. and Chinese officials are quitely discussing ways to improve access to the Chinese markets.  

But China won’t be let off easy for its theft. These tariffs are a crucial part of the Trump administration’s effort to increase global economic competition by leveling the playing field. In accompaniment, President Trump also took significant steps to restrict Chinese investment in the American economy and open a case against China at the World Trade Organization.

In other words, we’re fighting back. Finally.

Predictably, the Washington editorial class and swamp denizens are lambasting President Trump’s strategic defense of our technological crown jewels as an incitement to a trade war. Au contraire, Vichy America. President Trump is simply using the tools enshrined in our country’s laws to protect America from Chinese economic aggression. Self-defense is the right of any nation.

Of course, America has no preordained right to its position as an economic superpower. Rather, we earned that role through a decades-long display of innovation, which, if not defended, will be exploited by a strategic rival and emerging peer-military competitor. China realizes this. Workers across America, uneasy about declining job opportunities and unimpressed by globalist appeasement, realize this too.

Most importantly, President Trump realized this long ago, and he reacted decisively. He would have it no other way to keep American greatness going forward.

The only way to restore order in trade agreements is to fight back when a country is cheating.  It is time to make an example out of China and prove that there are consequences to cheating the United States on trade.

Corey R. Lewandowski served as a campaign manager to Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. He is co-author of “Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of his Rise to the Presidency.” Follow him on Twitter @CLewandowski_.