Trade agreements are being torn up in a brutal exercise of economic force by the most powerful

It was an extraordinary moment, so small wonder there was an audible intake of breath from the huge audience in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Here was Donald Trump, visibly flattered by the pomp and magnificence of the welcome mounted by the Chinese Communist party, saying in his big speech he did not blame his hosts for China’s enormous trade surplus with the US. What?!

Trump made China public enemy number one on his campaign trail. China, he declared repeatedly, had raped the US economy. It had to stop. He was going to brand it a currency manipulator on his first day in office, opening the way for a range of punitive responses. There would be swingeing tariffs on Chinese imports into the US, with steel singled out for early action. Jobs in industrial America had to be protected. A year on, nothing, apart from a couple of reviews, has happened.

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