Who was the biggest victor from last week's G7 meeting in Biarritz, France? Arguably, it was China.
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And they weren't even there.
What should have happened at the summit in France was a badly needed unified statement of the G7 powers condemning Chinese forced technology transfers, cyber espionage, high tariffs, intellectual property rights, predatory tariff policies, and human rights violations within its own borders. Instead, the European leaders with an assist from the hate Trump media portrayed the U.S. as the villain behind the global slow down and the disruption to world trade. The headlines were all the same: "Global leaders lecture Trump to end the trade war." Chinese President Xi couldn't have written the script better.
Donald Trump tried to put a smiley face on the uncomfortable and unproductive meeting of the leaders of the seven leading free-market powers. But he and all Americans can be excused if we wonder: wait, these are our closest allies? Whose side are they on?
When it comes to China and the increasing economic and security threats that the Xi government pose, the Europeans have responded like modern-day Neville Chamberlain appeasers. They seem to think that coddling China will end its corrupt practices. That strategy worked well with the Soviet Union in the 1960s and '70s.
To be fair, the Trump administration has earned some of this European ire, due to his own missteps. His unwise and counterproductive steel and aluminum tariffs and the impending threat of auto tariffs - that would do severe damage to the German, French and Japanese economies - antagonize our friends. Trump should have offered an end to all these tariffs to help isolate China as the planet's biggest threat to global trade and harmony.
But the people who showed their true colors in France last weekend were the weak-kneed Euroland members. Once again their priorities are out of sync with any sense of reality.
Today the democratic-socialist European economies are flatlined. Germany with Its negative interest rates is battling to keep its head above recession waters, and many economists are forecasting "another lost decade" for the comatose Euro-Zone. Nationalist policies are taking hold precisely because of the failure of the Euro-elites - people like Angela Merkel - to raise living standards for the middle class. Maybe, they should be praising Trump for having the best economy of all the industrialized nations and learning from his rollback of taxes and regulations.
Instead, in the midst of the EU continent-wide growth drought, the issue the French, the Germans, Italians and others like the Canadians wanted to focus on was...climate change. Trump fumed rightfully so, that the Europeans used this occasion to browbeat the American president on global warming - clearly a sideshow from the illegal trade practices of China.
Even if climate change really were the cataclysmic event they think it is, how is it that the U.S. is slapped as the villain by global leaders and the media? We have reduced our carbon emissions in 2017 and 2018 far more than the sanctimonious Europeans who haven't come anywhere close to meeting their greenhouse gas emission promises under their precious Paris Climate Accord. Meanwhile, the world's biggest polluter - with no signs of changing its dirty ways - China, gets a Get Out of Jail Free card, because the Beijing government is judged by its words, not its actions. China is actually a signatory to the Paris Climate Accord and laughing to the bank all the way.
As for the trade standoff, everyone wants a productive and speedy resolution to the dispute between the globe's two largest economies. But sources who were at the summit in France this past weekend say that if anything the Europeans acted as though the US and Trump are the instigators and enemy. Not the totalitarian Beijing Government.
What makes the Europeans' behavior especially galling is that these nations are front-line victims of China's abusive economic and trade behavior that Reump wants to end. China steels tens of billions of dollars of Eurozone intellectual property and the World Trade Organization adjudication courts are clogged with unresolved violations. Europe will also pay a heavy price for Chinese industrial espionage, forced technology transfers, and data theft - if it continues to go unchecked.
The G7 meeting is already becoming yesterday's news, but it stands out as the latest disturbing sign that the Europeans are cozying up to China and distancing itself with the shared economic, security and human rights values of the leader of the free world.
The unwillingness of the Euro-land leaders to speak out forcefully in favor of the Hong Kong freedom fighters is only the latest example of the continent's moral neutrality. (To be fair, the Trump administration hasn't been a strong defender of the Hong Kong protesters either.)I can't say it better than Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Rachel Rizzo, analysts at the Center for a New American Security, who wrote presciently in Politico:
"To uphold their shared values, both the United States and Europe need to collectively push back against China’s unfair trade and investment practices, its blatant human rights abuses, and the anti-democratic norms and practices it seeks to spread. A Europe that refuses to pick sides is exactly what Beijing seeks to achieve. Beijing understood long ago that its rising economic influence would lead other countries to balance against it. In an effort to dilute Western opposition to its national interests, China has taken steps to interrupt Europe’s alignment with the United States."
They are doing exactly that. Beijing is succeeding in bamboozling the European political and intellectual classes. This is Europe's short sight and shameful take on the state of the world. If the European's continue to choose the wrong side here or even stay ambiguously neutral - in what is evolving into the epic economic and freedom battle of our time - it will be Europe's downfall.
Stephen Moore served as a senior economic advisor to Donald Trump and is the co-author of "Trumponomics.". He is an economic consultant with Freedom Works.