Photo: China’s Vice Premier Liu He (left) and US President Donald Trump (right)
By Mike Talavera
Last Wednesday, US President Donald Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He signed an eight-part agreement that marks a detente in the ongoing trade war between the imperialist superpower US and rising imperialist China. The deal, which saw concessions from both sides, is widely seen as a temporary settlement that fails to resolve any of the fundamental grievances between the two largest economies in the world.
While Trump and Liu lauded the ‘harmony’ fostered by this agreement, the measures taken are mostly quantitative adjustments to trade relations and do not alter the cutthroat antagonism at the heart of imperialist competition. China pledged to buy $200 billion more in US goods by 2021 and to further open up its market to US investment, whereas the US dramatically reduced some of the existing tariffs imposed in 2018, although tariffs for 65% of imported goods will remain in place.
Surrounded by government officials and business executives, Trump used the signing event as a platform for his reelection campaign, echoing the nationalist ‘America First’ promises of his first presidential run. “With this signing, we mark more than just an agreement, we mark a sea change in international trade,” he told the press. “At long last Americans have a government that puts them first at the negotiating table.”
Despite Trump’s optimism, even bourgeois economists are skeptical that this deal will divert the US and China from their inevitable collision course. The revisionist People’s Republic of China, like the revisionist Soviet Union before it, is able to compete with US imperialism because its current market economy is built on the foundation of the communist-led development of the country’s productive forces during its New Democratic Revolution. Since the great Chairman Mao Zedong’s death, the Communist Party of China has taken the capitalist road and has since begun exporting capital to Africa and Latin America in the hopes of reaping superprofits and undermining US imperialists’ presence.
Since the fall of the revisionist Soviet Union, the US has been the world’s sole hegemonic superpower, but China’s economic growth, fueled heavily by state subsidies, has raised concerns among US imperialists about the future of their global dominance. Around 2010, China’s manufacturing output surpassed that of the US for the first time, and some projections predict that if the gross domestic product rates remain stable, China’s will overcome that of the US by 2030.
Under imperialism, the final stage of capitalism, there are no new markets. In order for economies to expand, imperialist nations have no choice but to steal, intimidate, extort, and go to war. These are the conditions that set the stage for the trade war initiated by the Trump administration in 2018.
The stock markets have seen a bump since the signing of the ‘phase one’ deal, but this momentary gain follows a year and a half of crippling uncertainty in world markets due to US-China tensions, not only causing investors to expect a downturn in the market but also slowing down production worldwide. There is no trade deal that can can reconcile the imperialist inclination to monopoly. As the US and Chinese economies continue to develop, they will inevitably be pushed closer and closer to confrontation.
As the gap between these two imperialist powers narrows, the probability of economic crisis will rise, and the openings for revolution blossom.