Who was the biggest victor from the recent Group of Seven meeting in France? Arguably, it was China, and the Chinese were not even there. What should have happened was a badly needed unified statement of the G-7 powers condemning Chinese forced technology transfers, cyber espionage, high tariffs, intellectual property rights, predatory tariff policies, and human rights violations within its own borders.
Instead, the European leaders, with a useful assist from the media, unfortunately portrayed the United States as the sole villain behind the global slowdown and the disruption to world trade. The headlines were all the same. “Global leaders lecture Trump to end the trade war.” Chinese President Xi Jinping could not have written a better script himself.
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE tried to put a smiley face on during the uncomfortable and unproductive meeting of the leaders of the seven leading free market powers. But he and all Americans can be excused if we wonder, “Are these are our closest allies? Whose side are they on?” When it comes to China and the increasing economic and security threats that Beijing poses, the Europeans have been responding like modern day Neville Chamberlain appeasers. They seem to think that coddling China will end its corrupt practices. Did that work with the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s?
To be fair, the administration has earned some of this European ire. The unwise and counterproductive steel and aluminum tariffs, along with the impending threat of automobile tariffs, which would do severe damage to the German, French, and Japanese economies, antagonize our friends. Trump should have offered an end to all these tariffs to help isolate China as the biggest threat to international trade and harmony, and then turned to a strategy that involves the United States working with these critical allies to address areas where reform in China is badly needed.
But the people who showed their true colors in France over the weekend were the weak kneed Europeans. Once again, their priorities are out of sync with any sense of reality. The democratic socialist European economies are flatlined. Germany, with its negative interest rates, is battling to keep its head above recessionary waters, and now many economists are forecasting “another lost decade” for the comatose Eurozone. Nationalist policies are taking hold precisely because of the failure of the European elites, people like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to raise living standards for the middle class. Maybe they should be praising Trump for having the best economy of all the industrialized nations and learning from his rollback of taxes and regulations.
Instead, in the midst of the continent wide economic growth drought, the one issue that the French, the Germans, the Italians, and others like the Canadians wanted to focus on was climate change. Trump fumed, and rightfully so, that the Europeans used this diplomatic occasion to browbeat the American president on global warming. It was clearly a sideshow from the harmful illegal trade practices of China.
Even if climate change really were the cataclysmic event they think it is, how is it that the United States is slapped as the villain by global leaders and the media? We reduced our carbon emissions far more than the sanctimonious Europeans, who have not come anywhere close to meeting their greenhouse gas emission promises under their precious Paris Climate Accord. China, which is the biggest polluter in the world and shows no sign of changing its dirty ways, holds a “get out of jail free” card because Beijing is judged by words rather than actions. China signed onto the Paris Climate Accord, and it is laughing all the way to the bank.
As for trade, everyone wants a speedy productive resolution to the dispute between the two largest economies in the world. But disharmony only emboldens Beijing, making a trade deal with lower tariffs less likely. What makes the behavior of the Europeans especially galling is that these nations are frontline victims of the abusive Chinese economic and trade policies that Trump wants to end. China steals tens of billions of dollars of intellectual property from Europe, and the World Trade Organization courts are clogged with many unresolved violations. Europe will also pay a heavy price for Chinese industrial espionage, forced technology transfers, and data theft, if those problems continue to go unchecked.
The G-7 meeting is already becoming old news, but it stands out as the latest disturbing sign that the Europeans are cozying up to China and distancing themselves from the shared economic, security, and human rights values of the leader of the free world. Their unwillingness to speak out forcefully in favor of the Hong Kong freedom fighters is only the latest example of their moral neutrality. To be fair, the administration has not been a strong defender of the Hong Kong protesters either.
Andrea Kendall Taylor and Rachel Rizzo, analysts with the Center for a New American Security, said it best when they wrote presciently, “To uphold their shared values, both the United States and Europe need to collectively push back against China’s unfair trade and investment practices, its blatant human rights abuses, and the anti-democratic norms and practices it seeks to spread. A Europe that refuses to pick sides is exactly what Beijing seeks to achieve. Beijing understood long ago that its rising economic influence would lead other countries to balance against it. In an effort to dilute Western opposition to its national interests, China has taken steps to interrupt Europe’s alignment with the United States.”
It is doing exactly that as Beijing is succeeding in bamboozling the European political and intellectual classes. If the leaders of Europe continue to shortsightedly choose the wrong side here, or even stay ambiguously neutral, in what is evolving into the epic economic and freedom battle of our time, it will be the downfall of the continent.
Stephen MooreStephen MooreRepublicans have moral and financial reasons to oppose raising the debt ceiling Ex-Trump aides launch million campaign against Biden economic agenda Families of 9/11 victims hope for answers about Saudi involvement in attacks MORE is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He served as an adviser to the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. His latest book with Arthur Laffer is “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.”