China would likely take countermeasures against Trump’s hard-line trade policy

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/11 0:08:39

China should stand ready to fight back if Donald Trump rolls out measures against China after he is sworn in as US president.

Strategic suspicions have long been viewed as the biggest hurdle between the two global powers, but in the wake of the US election Sino-US relations will probably shift. Trump is likely to take a more hard-line stance in pressuring China to make concessions in areas such as foreign trade and investment, causing economic relations - which have been described as the stabilizer for bilateral ties - to become a major point of disagreement between the two countries. 

Trump regularly railed against China during the campaign, blaming the country for US job losses and proposing a 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports. Although campaign rhetoric is not necessarily consistent with policy after a candidate assumes office, China should be ready for any possible scenario when it comes to its bilateral ties with the US, including a trade war.

Trump's stance on anti-globalization is perhaps the clearest indicator of what his economic policies will be.  He is likely to set up trade barriers for Chinese imports, which will make companies, like those in the steel sector, victims of trade investigations and tariff increases.

China can use the WTO's rules to protect its interests. However, if Washington takes the lead in breaking prevailing rules and even provokes a trade war, China will not hesitate to take countermeasures and establish trade barriers for American imports. China is now a vital overseas market for American firms like Apple Inc, and in 2015 China's imports of goods from the US reaching $149 billion, based on Chinese customs data. There is no doubt that the American economy would suffer a severe blow if China were in turn to impose a 45 percent tariff on US-made goods.

"Isolating or penalizing China will not serve America's interests," James Zimmerman, chairman of The American Chamber of Commerce in China, said in a statement on Wednesday. Additionally, Chinese firms doing business in the US currently add 80,000 jobs to the American workforce. This should also be taken into consideration if Trump plans to persuade American enterprises in China to return to the US which would take jobs away from China.

Without a doubt, China has  plenty of chips with which to bargain with the US. What Beijing needs to learn is how to deal with a political newcomer if the president-elect deviates from the usual path of trade relations. China should also develop contingency plans to prepare for the worst, if the US does provoke a trade war. In the meantime, Beijing is likely to seek a dialogue with Trump to ensure a smooth transition in Sino-US ties.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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