In the recently concluded election campaign, President-elect Trump suggested several steps that might be taken against China in retaliation for what he claimed were unfair trade practices that injured the U.S. economy. Prime among them was a 45 percent tariff against goods manufactured in China and sold to American consumers.
In response, numerous economists argued that such a serious move could set off a violent trade war that might lead to a worldwide depression. The 45 percent tariff idea was soon dropped by the Trump campaign, probably upon realization of how dangerous might be the consequences of such a step.
So the President-elect has moved now to what is allegedly a less disruptive blow against China: recognition of Taiwan as a nation separate from China. He would end a 44-year-old U.S. policy—the "One China" program—first enunciated in an agreement between then-President Richard Nixon and Mao Tse Tung.
Let me point out a minor travel-related step that China could take in response to this breach of "One China"—a step that China has already taken against Taiwan. Back in May of this year, when Taiwan elected a female president whom the Chinese suspected of having separatist notions, it cut the number of Chinese tourists going to Taiwan in half, by two hundred thousand tourists each month. By the time you read this, they may have eliminated all Chinese tourism to Taiwan, depriving the Taiwanese of $10 billion of income per year. They did all this without a public announcement of any sort, quietly, as if they were simply turning off a spigot.
As far back as 2014, China was sending 1.8 million tourists per year to the United States. By now, they probably send as many as 2.5 million tourists yearly to our country, a group spending nearly $20 billion a year and creating tens of thousands of jobs. If the President-elect continues to threaten that he will recognize Taiwan as a separate nation, the economic consequences to us could be grave.
It should bother all Americans when their President-Elect casually proposes to radically change our relationship with China as part of a "deal-making" ploy.