I think if you want to gauge the possibility of the US Congress eventually passing protectionist legislation aimed at China, it’s useful to follow “respectable” opinion: ie what leading economic commentators and journalists are saying. A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for economists brought up in a liberal tradition to endorse the idea of tariffs on Chinese goods. But that’s changed.
Earlier this week, the FT published a letter from a reader who pronounced himself “shocked” that the FT’s Martin Wolf should “advocate measures against China that are tantamount to declaring a trade war.” I was also shocked – not, as in outraged, but simply surprised. To be clear, Martin is not (yet) advocating the kind of trade tariffs that Congress is thinking about. But he does not dismiss that possibility out of hand, and advocates other forms of heavy pressure, such as restricting Chinese access to US capital markets.