President Donald Trump is placing new focus on targeting China's exploitation of the international trade system, putting the issue front-and-center in his newly released National Security Strategy, according to new information obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and multiple sources briefed on previously unreported details of the administration's new policy.
As part of Trump's newly issued strategy to tackle pressing national security priorities, in a document known as the NSS, the White House is planning efforts to combat China's longstanding practices to exploit the international trade system and harm the U.S. economic stature, according to these sources, who said the plan places renewed focus on the ties between economic security and national security.
The Free Beacon was briefed about this previously unreported portion of the NSS ahead of the formal unveiling of the plan scheduled for Monday.
Trump, a vocal critic of China's unfair trade policies, is said to have directed senior White House national security officials to target China and other countries who exploit the international trade system, according to White House insiders.
Economic prosperity and national security are inextricably linked in the White House's view, according to these sources who said previous administrations had failed to adequately highlight this angle in their own National Security Strategy documents.
"For the last several decades, no public policy issue has been of more concern to Donald Trump than unfair trade practices that put both American workers and business owners at a disadvantage," one source close to the White House and briefed on the NSS told the Free Beacon. "Years before he ran for president he's been a strong critic of Chinese business practices—but he's been even more critical of US policymakers who have done little to address this as an issue of America's economic health."
"So it's natural to find that the National Security Strategy stresses this," the source explained. "Over the last few administrations of both parties, we've pretended that our nation's economic security is a less important thing than say, climate change or in the number of parties running for parliamentary elections in the Middle East. This National Security Strategy is a much-needed corrective, largely because it returns us to common sense and away from ideological abstractions."
Two specific passages in the focus on efforts by China and other countries to exploit the international trade system and harm U.S. economic interests.
"The United States helped to expand the liberal economic trading system to countries that did not share our values in the hopes that these states would liberalize their economic and political practices, and provide commensurate benefits to the United States," the new White House NSS language states. "Experience now suggests that these countries distorted and undermined key economic institutions without prompting significant reform of their economies or politics."
Economic wars are just as dangerous as military ones, according to the Trump administration.
"Today, that economic system is under stress," the new strategy states. "It continues to serve our interests, but it must be reformed to help workers prosper, protect innovation, and reflect the principles upon which that system was founded. American prosperity is also threatened by an economic competition playing out in a broader strategic context."
A second source briefed by the White House on the new strategy told the Free Beacon that Trump played a personal role in ensuring that China and other bad trade actors are included in the new national security vision.
"This is Trump's document through and through, but perhaps nowhere more than the emphasis on restoring economic security," the source said. "Over and over, the strategy explains the links between economic prosperity and national security, and how predatory economic behavior from rivals like China directly threatens our ability to protect ourselves and our interests."