Free trade is a system that has been imposed by the US on the world, and they have spent a great deal of efforts to get most countries there. Finally even China was admitted to the club. Mission accomplished? Too well indeed!
Most countries around the globe have restructured to meet the challenge of open borders by applying the American handbook. By exporting its model, the US became relatively less competitive.
And China woke up thanks to Uncle Sam's orders. The millennial empire, with now millions of highly skilled and motivated engineers and businessmen, is back from oblivion . Suddenly the US are losing their hegemonic position.
Free trade used to be convenient; Mr Trump now thinks otherwise. However foolish we think Donald is, this is a sign of times. Like Japan 60 years ago would copy what Americans were inventing, they overtook the car industry. The same is happening with China. At a different scale.
Pax Americana has always been ruthless. We cannot expect it to have changed. But the playmates have changed and Donald wants to change the rules of the game on the way because he is losing...