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Vox Sentences: It’s beginning to look a lot like a trade war

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China announces another $50 billion worth of tariffs on the US; Trump is at odds with his administration on whether to pull troops out of Syria.

China sees Trump’s trade gamble and raises him another $50 billion

Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • What began as a (trade) war of words between China and the United States is escalating into very real action between the two nations. [Washington Post / Heather Long]
  • Today, China announced $50 billion worth of proposed retaliatory tariffs on US goods, including soybeans, automobiles, whiskey, and chemicals (this is in addition to the $3 billion worth of tariffs it announced earlier this week). [NYT / Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers]
  • This eye-popping price tag on China’s tariffs came in response to the Trump administration’s newly proposed $50 billion tariffs on Chinese goods such as aerospace, robotics, and certain kinds of machinery. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • World markets are noticeably uneasy in response to the escalating tariff battle. This morning saw stocks slump; they then rebound as some economists reminded that even with the big numbers, this is still a relatively small portion of the countries’ overall economies. [WSJ / Amrith Ramkumar and David Hodari]
  • Predictably, the president took to Twitter this morning to complain that he was not actually the one starting a trade war — it was “incompetent” US leaders who came before him. Trump also wrote that with a $500 billion trade deficit already in place, the US can’t lose any more. [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • But Trump definitely has something to lose out of all this. China is specifically targeting industries that Trump campaigned on revitalizing in 2016. Chinese officials have said they won’t pull the trigger on their tariffs unless the US acts first. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • If a US-China trade war were to happen, it wouldn’t be catastrophic for the US economy, but it would really hurt farmers and auto manufacturers in the Midwest (a.k.a. parts of Trump country). [Washington Post / Heather Long]
  • It’s worth reiterating that the tariff issue is one on which Trump breaks sharply with members of his own party. Congressional Republicans are very uneasy about this (and so far have shown they don’t have the ability to rein in the president on the issue). Some have even suggested taking action to stop Trump. [NBC News / Leigh Ann Caldwell]
  • It could also have implications for Republicans in the 2018 midterms, giving Democrats an opportunity to point out how tariffs could hurt local farmers and Republicans having no easy defense — as they themselves are asking Trump to step away from the edge. [Washington Post / Mike DeBonis]

Will they stay or will they go?

  • The future of the estimated 2,000 US troops in Syria has been a point of contention between President Trump and members of his administration over the past week. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Last Thursday, Trump announced US troops would exit Syria “very soon.” This announcement contradicted a Pentagon announcement just a few hours earlier highlighting the need for US troops to stay in the country, at least for the immediate future. [CNN / Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr]
  • On Tuesday, Trump told military leaders to prepare for a withdrawal from Syria. But today, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t mention concrete plans for an imminent withdrawal from Syria, saying the US military will keep talking to allies about future plans. [The White House]
  • The takeaway: Much to the president’s dismay, there’s no set date for a withdrawal of American troops from the war-ravaged country. [Politico / Wesley Morgan]
  • Why are American troops there in the first place? The White House says troops are focused on getting rid of the small number of ISIS fighters that remain. [NYT / Julie Hirschfeld Davis]


  • After a Salvadoran high schooler and MS-13 gang member confessed he agreed to give information about the gang to local police, he was slated for deportation. It’s a noticeable change in Trump era. [ProPublica / Hannah Dreier]
  • If you’re considering a move to Brazil and looking for a place to stay, consider the home of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (His apartment was seized in connection with a bribery conviction.) [WSJ / Luciana Magalhaes and Samantha Pearson]
  • Coffee will almost certainly not give you cancer, but an obscure California law means that the state might soon require all coffee shops and manufacturers to include a “may cause cancer” warning on the beverage. [PopSci / Sara Chodosh]
  • Is a real-life invisibility cloak in our future? Researchers hope so, and for help, they’re turning to ... octopuses. [Atlas Obscura / Jessica Leigh Hester]


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” [A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination / Independent]

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