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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

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Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

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Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

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President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

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