China tariffs offer US a dose of its own medicine Published: 2018/4/2 8:26:37

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China's State Council officially released on Monday morning a list of 128 American goods that will now have higher tariffs, a countermeasure to the recent unilateral Trump administration hikes slapped on Chinese steel and aluminum. Neither side has confirmed whether the latest tariff measures signal the start of a trade war. 

On March 22, the Trump administration announced more tariffs on Chinese imports were on the way, the result of the US Trade Representative's Section 301 investigation of China. According to the unilateral initiative, up to $60 billion in consumer goods imported from China will be hit with new tariffs while information on which products will be targeted remains unclear.

 Analysts believe China will probably take more countermeasures soon after the US publishes a specific list of its tariffs on Chinese goods, if not earlier.  

China's latest countermeasures target fruit, pork and other US goods totaling some $3 billion, the equivalent of China's losses caused by US tariffs. The list indicates China will never compromise and will always retaliate against unreasonable tariffs. 

For every single move against Chinese interests, the US can expect retaliation. It is time for Washington to bid farewell to the delusional, make-believe world whereby it imagines China an unresponsive, over-tolerant nation.

China does not want a trade war, but it will not retreat should one emerge. Monday's announcement is hardly a subtle hint. China will show its strength through action. 

Recent White House statements have revealed a tough stance on Sino-US trade disparities while some have even shown a level of optimism at resolving trade conflicts through negotiation. But it is not hard to realize that such self-contradictory behavior reveals that the US knows its actions are unjustifiable. China's attitude toward a trade conflict has been consistent and Beijing will carefully handle all challenges from the US. 

There are always a few Western politicians who think China might step back and concede. But they are wrong. The Chinese government only cares about what is in the best interest of its people rather than elections.  

Washington must be reasonable dealing with China. Threats will fail as China is not afraid of the US, plus the Chinese have zero tolerance for political weakness. 

If the US could learn how to propose reasonable changes that China could manage, then Washington would see them included in future adjustment plans without the pressure of a looming trade war.

American politicians better realize sooner rather than later that China will never submit if the US launches a trade war. If there is anyone in Washington who thinks that political extortion and the threat of war are effective tools that can be used to intimidate the Chinese, then the recent development on the Korea Peninsula and China's military actions in the South China Sea will surely reinform them. 

China has always emphasized the importance of Sino-US relations. But lately we have witnessed a few American hard-liners crying out for harsher policy on China. It is worth observing the various challenges such posturing will provide for China-US bilateral ties. 

China is not expecting added damage to US relations, but China does have the confidence and courage to handle whatever comes.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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