President Donald Trump should intensify his trade battle with China by barring Chinese businesses from U.S. capital markets and technology, his former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, said.
'He has to go all the way; it’s not a trade war, it’s an economic war they’ve been running against the West,' Bannon said in an interview Friday in the central Asian state of Kazakhstan. 'You cut off the access to the capital markets and you cut off the access to technology, they fold immediately.'
Amid escalating confrontation between the world’s two largest economies, Trump raised tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese exports this month and blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co. as well as scores of its affiliates. Talks on a trade deal have stalled and Trump warned Monday that tariffs on Chinese goods 'could go up very, very substantially.' China accused Washington of seeking an 'unequal trade deal' and said tariffs would have a limited impact on its economy while also hurting the U.S.
'I don’t think Trump backs off for a second' because the conflict 'is about fundamentally changing the Chinese economy so they can work with the free market economies of the West,' said Bannon. 'You have two systems right now that are incompatible.'
Bannon was the architect of many of Trump’s populist 'America First' policies before he left in August 2017 after the arrival of then Chief of Staff John Kelly. Trump later denounced Bannon, saying he 'not only lost his job, he lost his mind,' over criticisms the adviser made of the president and his family in a book.
Trump has 'zero chance' of improving U.S. relations with Russia amid increasingly 'vicious' political infighting in Washington over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Bannon said. 'When China is the only thing that matters, Russia is a sideshow,' he said.
Bannon spoke in the Kazakh city of Almaty, where he attended a media forum organized by former President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s elder daughter, Dariga. She became head of the energy-rich nation’s senate last month after Nazarbayev handed over the presidency to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in an orchestrated transfer of power. Tokayev has called early elections for June 9.
Kazakhstan and central Asia is among three emerging geostrategic zones, along with Southeast Asia and eastern Europe, 'in this tectonic plate shift with China and the U.S.,' Bannon said. 'Those three zones are going to be very important geopolitically in the future and so I am trying to spend as much time in all three of them as possible.'
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