Investigations into President Trump’s connections to Russia go on and on, but China may be benefitting from his actions far more. Thomas Friedman of the NY Times has said that it seems as though the President is “acting as an agent for the Chinese.” He bases his observation on two considerations: Trump’s distain for free trade (specifically the TTP) and his dismissal of global warming. Friedman contends that our ignoring these two issues maximizes China’s influence and advantage in the world.

Investigations into President Trump’s connections to Russia go on and on, but China may be benefitting from his actions far more. Thomas Friedman of the NY Times has said that it seems as though the President is “acting as an agent for the Chinese.” He bases his observation on two considerations: Trump’s distain for free trade (specifically the TTP) and his dismissal of global warming. Friedman contends that  our ignoring these two issues maximizes China’s influence and advantage in the world.
Before and after the election we have seen Mr. Trump’s need to be the hero in every scenario, and Americans love their heroes. He declares himself to be “the only one who can fix” a situation, and later finds it more difficult than he thought (health care), or that the facts are not what he thought (Mexico paying for a wall), fudges the statistics (the number of people attending his inauguration), declares a victory whether there is one or not (Carrier and Boeing saving a few jobs), then moves on.
Globalization and free trade are complex problems with multiple moving parts. Protecting some workers will harm others. Mr. Trump wants to protect American manufacturing jobs by limiting or “fixing” trade agreements, not realizing that many, many American jobs depend upon our free trade with multiple trading partners. To continue exporting, we have to compromise and let free trade flourish.
According to Mr. Friedman, The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a carefully crafted compromise that benefitted us; those countries lining the Pacific rim prefer us to the Chinese as a trade leader, and they gave us beneficial concessions. Now that Mr. Trump has nixed this agreement, the Chinese are left as the dominant trading partner in the area and can write the trade rules for their own benefit. We will be left on our own. Our president claims he saved jobs. Did he save more than we will lose? I doubt it. Did killing TTP ultimately favor the Chinese and hurt us? I suspect so. Experts say there are more jobs lost to technology and mechanization than to free trade.
Mr. Trump is also trying to resurrect the coal industry, but is putting solar, wind and battery technologies on the back burner. He is damaging this part of our economy by pulling us out of the Paris Accords and resisting the development of sustainable energy sources and cutting edge technologies that would keep our economy moving into the future. China (who is smothering in smog from coal-burning plants) is roaring ahead with research into all the new cutting edge technologies, leaving us in the dust. Scientists’ frustration was evidenced in the recent protest marches held all over the world on Earth Day.
Due to past efforts, the renewable energy and sustainability revolution has been a bright spot in our economy. The fastest growing job opportunity is that of a wind power technician. The wind industry supported 88,000 jobs at the end of 2016. Jobs in the solar industry are growing 17 times faster than those in other areas, with 260,000 workers employed in the solar field at the end of last year. Missouri also is participating with a large solar farm under construction in Nixa which will provide 9 percent of the city’s power to 1800 homes.
We cannot move forward, nor keep our country great, without science, and that is difficult in the current anti-science, anti-fact atmosphere. Russia may be trying to manipulate our elections, but it is China that is going to out-distance us economically if we continue down our current path. 

Catherine Rhoades writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.