They still had a free-trade agreement.
Agreements don't mean anything except in the US, Canada, parts of the European Union, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and a couple of other countries.
Non-tariff barriers are way pretty effective in slowing trade:
US could easily block any food imports until pests are no longer an issue in Chinese food supply chain.
US could easily block any products from factories that haven't passed US safety inspections.
But does the US even have enough inspectors and inspections, enough bureaucrats, enough reliable data about all those factories and farms and goods? The fact is that the US doesn't even know what's being imported.
This is new, any explanation why parts of?
I would say the developed countries (before China). China is the first where ethic is not a virtue... unfortunately.
I love these long form stories that mix relevant history with informed analysis. Instead of poorly masked politicized version of some current event presented as news, which gets exhausting after a while.
I need to remind myself to read more of this type of stuff and there's plenty around.
IMHO, we might better call it a tax hike, a new regulatory regime, new trade restrictions, a rebalancing of domestic priorities, an attempt by government to increase or reduce a trade deficit, or something else. and we may well decide it's foolish and bad and stupid. but it's not really a war in the true sense.
We've now largely abandoned the practice of actively killing over trade, but the nomenclature remains by precedent, and is understood by all.
I mean, the US is not requiring, say, that goods imported to US ports be exclusively carried by US ships, as the English did. The US is not taking possession of any of the many Chinese owned port facilities which currently operate in a large number of US cities. The US is not demanding that only US merchant ships be allowed to carry cargo across certain regions of the world's oceans. And, China has not, for instance, sailed up the Potomac and stolen any US vessels.
Most of this is playing out in terms of taxes and tariffs. It is almost totally bureaucratic and regulatory in nature.
And in fact they may not do it ever, because such tactics require an opaque bureaucratic system and large-scale centralized control that Western-style countries simply don't have.
I recommend "police action"