U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has just received his second threat following a recent warning from North Korea. This time, China has some words against Trump, telling him that it would be unwise to launch an all-out trade war against the second largest economy in the world.
During the campaign period, Trump repeatedly spoke against China, stating that he would punish the country with “defensive” 45% tariffs on its imports. He also promised to declare China a “currency manipulator” on his first day of office.
Chinese government-run Global Times has warned, however, that doing so would be a huge mistake for the newly-elected president, according to The Guardian.
“If Trump wrecks Sino-US trade, a number of US industries will be impaired. Finally the new president will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence,” said the paper in an editorial.
Such new tariffs, it claimed, would cause immediate “countermeasures” and “tit-for-tat approach” from Beijing.
“A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the US.”
“Making things difficult for China politically will do him no good,” the Global Times warned.
China’s foreign ministry echoed a similar sentiment recently, but using a more diplomatic statement against Trump’s planned measures.
“I believe that any US politician, if he takes the interests of his own people first, will adopt a policy that is conducive to the economic and trade cooperation between China and the US,” Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang was quoted as saying.
Many, especially the officials in Beijing, are now awaiting which of Trump’s campaign rhetoric will eventually become actual policy. While the likelihood of Trump actually pushing through with his trade war pronouncements is at 50/50, there is a valid reason to really get worried about them.
Observers also point out that going hard against China, which has accounted for a third of the world’s growth in the last 15 years, would affect a host of other countries, including U.S. allies Japan and South Korea.
“For many countries around the world, China is now the biggest trading partner, so this kind of tit-for-tat trade protectionism with China will dampen the atmosphere for the international trading community,” trade expert and Japan’s Keio University professor Yorizumi Watanabe told The Wall Street Journal. “That is no good for Japan or anyone else.”
So far, Trump has spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping who congratulated Trump on his win on Sunday night. According to Trump’s transition team, the two leaders mainly “established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another.”