As Washington and Beijing impose ever-higher tariffs, prompting financial markets to falter, U.S. lawmakers are expressing hope for a swift but comprehensive resolution of America's deepening trade disputes with China.
Unease prevailed on Capitol Hill after China retaliated against a new round of American tariffs by hiking duties on U.S.-made goods. Even so, senators of both parties say China must be confronted.
"We need to challenge China to change a lot of its trade practices and its domestic business practices.”said Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen. “For example, they've been stealing U.S. (technological) secrets for a long time."
But Van Hollen faults President Donald Trump's focus on tariffs.
"What I see is a tariff-only strategy. I don't see a more comprehensive strategy towards China,” Van Hollen said. “American consumers are paying more and more by the day. It's not all about how many sales they (Chinese producers) are making and how many sales the United States is making to China."
Among the most vocal about trade war concerns are American farmers. Republican Senator Roy Blunt represents agriculture-rich Missouri.
"We (Missouri farmers) were selling about one out of every four rows of soybeans just to China,” Blunt said. “Soybeans, corn, livestock that's a great market that's being disrupted.”
But Blunt believes Americans understand that short-term economic pain is necessary to secure better trading terms with China.
"If there's a trade fight worth having, it's the trade fight with China,” Blunt said. “They have not been fair traders.”
While the U.S.-China dispute is grabbing most headlines, Blunt also urged Congress' swift consideration of a new U.S.-Canada-Mexico free trade pact.