Many in the American business community chose to initially react to Donald Trump's election victory by taking him seriously — but not literally — about his plan to use ad hoc tariffs to initiate and "win" trade wars with foreign countries. And while Trump is likely to have significant problems getting many of his plans through Congress, that's not going to be the case on trade.
For starters, existing statutes actually give the executive branch considerable discretion to employ various kinds of punitive or protective tariffs without congressional assent. Past presidents have generally used that power sparingly largely because they haven't wanted to use it. But Trump does want to use it, and Congress wants to let him. Indeed, many congressional Democrats are positively eager see him do it. And while Republicans are less gung-ho, they don't seem even remotely inclined to stand in his way.
January has been the month people began to realize that Trump probably means what he says, with the stock market halting its post-election climb and attendees of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, dreaming that China will be the new champion of the global trading order.
The truth is that while China is obviously a large and important country, the American economy remains far larger. If Trump wants confrontational trade policies, then confrontational trade policies are what he's going to get. And all signs are that's exactly what he wants.