“‘For some sides of the administration, the purpose of the tariffs was to build leverage so as to pressure China to open its markets to American businesses, thereby deepening the U.S.-China relationship,’ said Ely Ratner, director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, who was previously an adviser to former vice president Joe Biden. ‘Others see economic interdependence as a huge vulnerability and a problem that needs to be solved. Is the goal a more reciprocal economic relationship or is it one that’s less interdependent?’

“Ratner said he didn’t expect the worsening trade relations necessarily to result in more Chinese aggression in Taiwan or the South China Sea. He said the question is more on the U.S. side — whether the failure to reach a trade deal will prompt the Trump administration to unleash harsher measures against China that until now it has been holding back in the interest of striking a deal. He said those measures could extend to the national security space — for instance, with more a more muscular U.S. military presence in the South China Sea…”

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