(CN) – Whenever the subject of U.S. manufacturing comes up, President Donald Trump inevitably pivots to China. A viral YouTube video mashes up Trump spitting out the country’s name hundreds of times, blaming it for unemployed U.S. factory workers.
Sticking to this script on Thursday, the White House rolled out another “Buy American and Hire American” executive order on the day of Trump’s big meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“No final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future,” Trump wrote in his morning tweetstorm.
The president’s use of executive power to push the federal government to stick to U.S. contracts and employees is nothing new. Trump issued a similar “Buy American and Hire American” order in April 2017, with only modest gains to the suffering manufacturing sector.
The Trump White House has heaped the blame for this reality on China to justify a trade war, but the president expressed optimism that a deal had a “very good chance of happening.”
“If it does happen, it would be by far the largest trade deal ever made,” Trump boasted in his typical superlatives.
He made the promise at a time of rising U.S.-Chinese tensions.
U.S. federal prosecutors have accused China of trying to cheat their way to superpower status, via cyberwarriors and corporate espionage, ratcheting up a string of prosecutions against a Huawei executive and an alleged Chinese intelligence operative.
Barring a rapid breakthrough, things will likely get worse quickly.
After a March 2 deadline, Trump planes to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.
Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, also made big promises for Trump’s latest “Buy American” order, which he claimed would affect how 30 federal agencies award over $700 billion in such aid each year.
This in turn, Navarro claimed, would benefit “blue collar, Trump people.”
But statistician Nate Silver branded the idea of a working-class rebellion for the billionaire a media-fueled myth after the presidential election, pointing to numbers that show Trump’s voters are better off than most U.S. citizens.
The White House did not release the text of the new order by press time.