Checklist: China’s Targets in a US Trade War

uschina, Flickr U.S. Department of Agriculture, modified,


Whether or not the Trump administration follows through on its moonshot of negotiating over the One China policy, it seems increasingly likely that tensions over North Korea, Taiwan, the South China Sea, and trade could bring about a breakdown in US-China relations. The primary arena where such a breakdown would play out, at least initially, is bilateral trade.

President elect Trump has put some of his cards on the table already. He campaigned on punishing China for unfair trade practices, labeling the country a currency manipulator, and slapping tariffs as high as 45% on Chinese exports into the U.S. After his victory, he doubled down by calling the bedrock of US-China relations into question.

But how will China respond to all this? Here’s a list of Beijing’s potential targets.


Past is Precedent?

Unbeknown to many, this sort of thing has actually happened before in the early days of the Obama administration. One of President Obama’s early decisions in office was to slap a tariff on Chinese tire exports citing unfair government support for the industry. The Chinese side responded in 2010 by imposing a retaliatory tariff on US broiler chicken imports – an industry that accounts for over 300,000 jobs in the United States.

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