The inside story of President Trump’s gamble to confront China over trade.


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President Donald Trump’s announcement regarding his decision to place tariffs on Chinese imports in 2018 further complicated a historically tumultuous relationship between China and the U.S.

With Trump’s recent threats to further raise tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, a trade deal between the nations has yet to be negotiated. In their documentary, “Trump’s Trade War,” FRONTLINE and NPR explore the Trump administration’s motives for imposing the tariffs.

The program includes interviews from key players in the administration, including Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist under Trump, who describes the polarization inside the White House regarding trade discussion.

FRONTLINE and NPR draw parallels between China and the U.S., offering viewers a look at a competitive relationship between the two nations, which extends well beyond the current clash on trade. The documentary presents the U.S. business community’s hesitation to address Chinese business practices that violate trade rules and offers a look at what’s ahead for trade between the two nations.

The program is produced in association with the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Trump’s Trade War premieres Tuesday, May 7 at 10/9c on PBS, PBS FRONTLINE and the PBS Video App.

Former White House advisor Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon, a former White House strategist, talks to correspondent Laura Sullivan about the administration’s China strategy. (Emma Schwartz/FRONTLINE)

Trump’s Trade War is a FRONTLINE production with American University School of Communication’s Investigative Reporting Workshop in collaboration with NPR. The writer and director is Rick Young. The correspondent is Laura Sullivan. The co-producers are Fritz Kramer and Emma Schwartz. The reporters are Emma Schwartz and Laura Sullivan. IRW-FRONTLINE Fellow Emily Crawford helped to research the program.

The executive producer for FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.