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Hopeful Grain and Oil in Sanhe has switched to Brazilian soybeans. Image: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty

The warning is delivered by a non-threatening soybean, but this talking legume is no weakling: If President Trump persists with his trade war against China, it says, he may lose seats in the coming midterms.

What's going on: The talking soybean appears in an animated video produced by CGTN, the English-language branch of China’s state-owned TV broadcaster. In the middle comes a threat: Hike tariffs too high and China will look to South America to satisfy its humongous soybean appetite.

The background: Soybeans are a primary U.S. export to China, worth $14 billion last year, the New York Times reports. And China, responding to Trump's tariffs and threats of much, much worse, is targeting soybean-growing states in an attempt to pressure the president to back off.

Hence the animation — distributed on Twitter and apparently aimed at an American audience. Among the soybean's talking points:

  • The crop is grown primarily in 10 states, nine of which voted for Trump in 2016.
  • 62% of U.S. soybeans go to China, which imports 85% of its soybean consumption, one-third of it from the U.S.
  • U.S. soybean prices are already dropping — they are down 18% since May.

The soybean points out that things could get worse — if the tariffs mean higher soybean prices, China may "look to other sources for the bulk of its imports." Specifically, Brazil and Argentina, "could pick up the slack."

Americans are accustomed to hardball politics, but soybean hardball may be another matter.

  • Already, just as the cartoon bean warns, Brazil has stepped up its exports to China, the South China Morning Post reports.
  • The animation aims low, with a final scene depicting Trump sliding a dollar out of the pocket of a voter, who reaches over his shoulder to vote Democratic.

What they’re saying: As soybean chatter intensified last week, Trump might have been trying to deflect:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.

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