A Chinese government-owned newspaper ran a four-page insert in the Des Moines Register to bash President Donald Trump's trade tariffs with China.
Who sponsored the special section?
On Sunday, the China Daily, a media company run by the Chinese government, published a four-page section in the Register.
The section, which was labelled “China Watch,” was upfront about who was sponsoring it. A banner across the top of the first page read “This supplement was paid for and prepared solely by China Daily, an official publication of the People's Republic of China. The Des Moines Register news organization and advertising department were not involved in the creation of this content.”
The section criticized the U.S. tariffs on China. It warned that the current trade dispute was forcing "Chinese importers to look to South America."
The Chinese government (through China Daily) took out an ad in yesterday’s Des Moines Register warning Iowa of the dangers of a #TradeWarpic.twitter.com/U2tvCKY7ya
— Connell McShane (@connellmcshane) September 25, 2018
What about the tariffs?
The United States has implemented tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. China, meanwhile, has placed retaliatory tariffs on $110 billion worth of imports from the U.S.
“China is the world's largest soybean exporter and about 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports go to the country,” the piece warned. It continued: “The trade dispute has forced more Chinese importers in South America, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.”
Drake University political science professor David Skidmore told the Register that he thought the campaign was meant to “maximize pressure on the administration to change its trade policies toward China by attempting to show White House and Republicans that they're going to pay a price with the midterms.”
While the move is clear propaganda in a state that China knows is crucial to American politics, it is true that the tariffs have had an impact on American farmers. After China announced retaliatory tariffs on sorghum imports from the U.S., the price of sorghum dropped significantly.
In addition to direct impact on the sale of crops, U.S. tariffs on steel have caused the cost of agricultural equipment to jump. The White House announced in July that it would be extending $12 billion in aid to farmers impacted by foreign retaliatory tariffs.
The insert in the Register also included a promotion for a book about Chinese President Xi Jinping's “fun days in Iowa.”