China, Defiant but Careful, Promises Aggressive Response to Tariffs
The question for Chinese leaders is how long the higher tariffs will last. China has ways to keep its economy humming, at least in the near term. Negotiators also have time to reach a deal, as the Trump administration effectively delayed the tariff increase by saying they only applied to goods that leave China on Friday or later. Oceangoing goods, in other words, won’t get hit by the 25 percent levy until they arrive at American ports over the next few weeks.
Still, China’s economy has shown it isn’t invulnerable. Some factories are already suffering.
“You can definitely feel the anxiety,” said Lu Mengxi, the founder of a winery in northwestern China that sells both domestically and abroad, including in the United States.
What began last year as an investigation into China’s practices toward American companies operating within its borders has turned into a sprawling conflict that has weighed on financial markets and economic activity across the globe.
While analysts widely believe the two countries will eventually reach a deal to avert a trade dispute that could seriously hurt the world economy, the appetite for further conflict seems unabated on both sides.
American companies operating in China have generally chided both countries’ governments for using tariffs to bring each other to the negotiating table. On Friday, however, Ker Gibbs, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, sounded more favorably inclined toward the Trump administration’s policies and less tolerant of Beijing’s.
“While many of our companies are hurt by the tariffs and ongoing trade tensions, we understand the U.S. government’s frustration,” Mr. Gibbs said in a statement. “There needs to be a deal that rebalances the economic relationship.”
Few in China appear to believe that a change of tactics is due, either.
“It would be easy to do what a small minority of people in China are advocating, and to go along with America on everything,” Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the state-run newspaper Global Times, wrote in a commentary on Friday. “But that just won’t do. That would not be responsible to the people’s interests.”