See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

China takes on US in trade war as Asia makes other plans

China has engaged Washington in a series of reciprocal tariffs – while the rest of Asia watches and makes other plans.


Written by

Updated: April 6, 2018

Despite overtures made by China to negotiate and avoid a trade war, Beijing has signalled that it will not back down from Washington’s protectionist trade policies.

The US administration decided last month to impose a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and a 10-percent tariff on aluminium imports from countries including China.

Some countries, including South Korea, have renegotiated trade pacts with the United States to exempt themselves from the tariffs.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to urge Trump in person to offer Japan an exemption from the tariffs, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

But where some countries have kowtowed to US pressure, China has reversed course and is aggressively countering US policies.

Tit for Tat

China on Thursday filed a request for consultation with the World Trade Organization regarding Washington’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

“With the United States refusing to enter compensation negotiations in accordance with WTO rules, China has to initiate the dispute settlement procedure to protect its rights and interests,” Beijing said in a statement.

China also imposed levies on $3 billion worth of US fruits, nuts, pork and wine to protest the Trump administration’s move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imported from China last month.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration proposed levying 25 percent tariffs on 1,300 Chinese goods in aviation, technology and machinery sectors, which would add up to about $50 billion annually.

In retaliation, China on Wednesday announced plans to impose its own 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of US exports including aircraft, cars and soybeans.

“If the US decides to impose tariffs on Chinese goods in an aggressive way, it will be surprised by the fact that China has the ability to fight back aggressively, too,” said Zhang Monan, director of the Institute of International Trade. “After all, the US relies on Chinese products more than China relies on US goods.”

According to Nirmal Ghosh of the Straits Times, “China’s imposition of tariffs targets part of US President Donald Trump’s political base.”

Those hardest hit by the tariffs will be farmers, blue-collar workers and the manufacturing base, key elements of Trumps demographic and a something to be taken to account as the United States gears itself up for mid-term elections in November.

Both sides have tried to ease fears and have publicly said that they are not embroiled in a trade war, Trump himself tweeted as much.

Meanwhile, China’s state-owned papers have gone on the offensive and highlighted ways the tariffs were bad for both countries and the mistakes made by the Trump administration.

“By threatening protectionist tariffs, Trump has caused a major disruption in the global trading system and also put Americans in harm’s way. US consumers, farmers and blue-collar workers, many of whom voted for Trump, have been hurt already,” said Chen Weihua in an editorial in the China Daily.

“The Trump administration should realize that such a ploy will not work with China, a country that will not yield to any external pressure aimed at compromising its interests,” said another China Daily editorial.

Asia watches

With the world’s two largest economies looking set to continue their tit-for-tat measures, the rest of Asia has quietly begun enacting contingency plans.

South Korea said that it would reduce its reliance on its two main export destinations, the US and China, and diversify its markets to Eurasia, ASEAN and India, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Other countries across Asia have also revived the Obama-administration led Trans-Pacific Partnership – only this time without US involvement.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: ANN’s current Chairman is Mr Warren Fernandez, who is also Editor-in-Chief of The Straits Times, Singapore. He is the current President of the World Editors Forum.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Economics

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020