Sputnik: So the president’s threat to add another $100 billion worth of tariffs – on top of the $50 billion he has already implemented – have not only drawn the anger of China, but also amongst his own party. How likely is it that he will go through with this, or is he, in the words of one Republican senator, “blowing off stream”?
Qing Shan Ding: Well with Trump, he’s very unpredictable and of course the situation is ongoing. He’s hasn’t had much time yet for these measures to be implemented so it’s very unpredictable. But if the scale of the trader war is escalating I don’t think his own party, especially his support base, a lot of farmer won’t be happy with these kinds of measures. Personally, I don’t think this full blown trade war is going to happen. A lot of behind the door negotiations are happening anyway.
Sputnik: Of course China took aim this week at the US’ soybean industry, which many, especially within the Republican party, feared they would as these are grown in majority Republican states. Do you think it’s likely that these will therefore start to erode the president’s support base?
Qing Shan Ding: I think it will definitely have some sort of impact because China is one of the biggest exporters of American agriculture. Soybeans for example were about fourteen billion dollars per year. This is the same as beef so there’s a lot of stake here that could hurt a lot of American farmers. So the support base won’t be happy. There are others things too: such as cars. America sells quite a lot of cars to China. Airplanes as well, obviously Boeing has a huge market in China as the country’s domestic aviation industry is booming and there’s a huge order for airplanes. There’s a lot at stake. A lot of American jobs will be hit.
So there’s a lot of stake here and many reports talk about if this kind of trade war is going to go ahead, it’s going to hit America a lot more than China because a lot of these tariffs are based on American on American agricultural products. Soybeans for example, India sells a lot of soybeans, potentially China can source form there. China already imports a lot from Brazil. Argentina grows a lot of these as well.
Sputnik: And finally, President Trump firstly said he was happy for a trade war, and then he said he didn’t want one, but now he’s threatening these additional tariffs, and in response while China has said that it doesn’t want to fight a trade war, it will if necessary. So do you actually see this dreaded trade war happening in the future?
Qing Shan Ding: A lot of this is targeting a strategy China is promoting called the ‘made in China 2025.’ This is about China trying to upgrade its manufacturing capabilities. I think America in a sense is starting to see China’s economic ability as becoming some sort of strategic rival. So a lot of this kind of trade war talks is potentially more than just trade war talk; it’s about the strategic rivalry starting to see the threat of a rising China. And they’re trying to think about whether they can use the trade leverage to curtail the rise of China.
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