China’s Weapons of Trade War

BEIJING – China exports more to the United States than the US exports to China. That makes US President Donald Trump furious – so furious, in fact, that he may be willing to start a trade war over it.

Trump has leveled tough protectionist threats against China. As he attempts to consolidate his presidency, he is unlikely to back away from them. And with the Communist Party of China’s 19th National Congress set to take place in Beijing in November, Chinese leaders are unlikely to yield to US pressure.

A trade war would undoubtedly hurt both sides. But there is reason to believe that the US has more to lose. If nothing else, the Chinese seem to know precisely which weapons they have available to them.

China could stop purchasing US aircraft, impose an embargo on US soybean products, and dump US Treasury securities and other financial assets. Chinese enterprises could reduce their demand for US business services, and the government could persuade companies not to buy American. The bulk of numerous Fortune 500 companies’ annual sales come from China nowadays – and they already feel increasingly unwelcome.