The only real hope for U.S. success is a policy adjustment that is possible in theory but difficult in practice. Washington must forego unilateral sanctions against China and instead concentrate on building a multilateral coalition that hammers away at unfair Chinese trade practices. Only a united front of major trading nations has any hope of permanently and meaningfully altering Chinese behavior, and that is still a long shot. The Trump administration would have to abandon its misguided assaults on major partners like the EU, Japan, Mexico and Canada. It would have to resort to multilateral diplomacy and have some faith in international institutions such as the World Trade Organization. Every one of these recommendations runs counter to the instincts of this administration, and a failure to check those impulses could result in far greater damage to the United States.
Brad Glosserman is deputy director of the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University, Tokyo, and senior advisor for Pacific Forum in Honolulu. Denny Roy is a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, Honolulu.