The US has declared China a “currency manipulator” — which, on the face of it, is like a bear declaring that another bear defecated in the woods. But the formal act of designation is a big deal.
Under a law passed in 1988, when the US first discovered that its global dominance might be under threat from trade competitors, the president is empowered to “initiate negotiations … on an expedited basis” to force China to raise the value of the renminbi against the dollar.
The act includes sanctions such as banning Chinese firms from US contracts, and was described at the time by critics as “the economic equivalent of civilian bombing”. But in truth the economic war between China and the US is already under way, and is wholly framed by Trump’s skewed vision of American geopolitics.