CKGSB Knowledge - China Business and Economy

THE VIEW FROM BEIJING

President Xi Jinping set a hard tone for China’s intensifying trade war with the United States back in June when he met with a high-powered group of American and European executives in Beijing. The US had just threatened to impose tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and the Chinese leader warned his foreign guests that this action would have consequences.

“In the West, you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the cheek, you turn the other cheek,” Xi reportedly told the assembled CEOs. “In our culture, we push back.”

The message Xi was sending was clear. After decades of hiding its strength and biding its time, Beijing had decided to go toe-to-toe with Washington on issues it considered central to its interests.

In the months since, many analysts have been waiting for Beijing to abandon this hardball approach. As US tariffs began to inflict economic pain, Beijing would be forced to soften its stance to secure a much-needed end to the trade war.

The implementation of the $200 billion round of tariffs in September did accelerate China’s economic slowdown, though domestic factors were possibly more important. As winter rolled on, business sentiment plummeted, the stock market continued its precipitous decline, and exports, retail and property sales all took a hit.

Some argue that US tariffs will force China to make large concessions on trade.

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