SINGAPORE (Aug 27): Several decades ago, I stopped a couple of thugs from beating up a young man. I was simply passing by. The victim of the attack tried fighting back, but the attackers told him to stop resisting as they continued to punch and kick.

This attack had all the elements of bully behaviour, including blaming the victim to justify the increase in violence. “Stop resisting when we punch you!” was the cry. The attack stopped only when I intervened because this brought the threat of discovery and possible apprehension by the law. The cowards ran off and were later arrested on an attempted murder charge.

These are also the essential elements of the current US approach to trade relations, specifically trade relations with China. Central to this approach is the idea that resistance or retaliatory responses are just another justification for an increased level of violence from the attacker. US President Donald Trump routinely threatens heavier tariffs if China responds with its own tariffs.

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