Lighthizer began investigating China’s intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers in August 2017 and last year began to place tariffs on Chinese goods. Beijing responded with its own tariffs. The escalation continued until December, when both sides decided to halt planned increases as they worked on negotiations.
The trade war comes at a time when China’s economy is slowing down. China had claimed 6.6 percent economic growth in 2018—its slowest annual growth rate since 1990—yet the real amount is likely much lower because China doctors its numbers: According to a Brookings Institute report, China overestimated its growth rate by about 2 percentage points between 2008 to 2016, with the miscalculation growing each year.
In order to avoid the tariffs, some companies are moving their factories from China to Vietnam, a country that has benefited from the trade war. In the first quarter of 2019, Vietnam’s GDP grew 6.79 percent while exports to the United States increased by 26 percent. Several companies making furniture, refrigerators, and car tires have moved production from China to Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, and Mexico, according to Panjiva, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s trade data firm.
Censored by CBS:
A new episode of The Good Fight, a CBS legal drama, focused on American companies engaging in self-censorship to appease China. But ironically, CBS itself censored part of the episode. The censored segment was a musical animated short about topics blocked on the internet in China, including Falun Gong, Tiananmen Square, and Winnie-the-Pooh (a character Chinese netizens believe resembles President Xi Jinping). CBS said it feared for the safety of its employees in China if the segment was included, according to Jonathan Coulton, a songwriter for the show.