The Beijing party line echoes the positive tone voiced by the country’s business executives. A Sunday opinion piece in China’s state-controlled newspaper Global Times said the tariff is “merely campaign rhetoric.”
If such a tax was imposed, China would take a “tit-for-tat” approach, the op-ed piece said, but “Trump as a shrewd businessman will not be so naïve.”
That optimism may not be warranted.
“I think a little caution would be in their best interest … There is a lot of political pressure on President-elect Trump to follow through on his promises,” said Timothy Heath, senior international defense research analyst at Rand Corp.
He said official reports on a Monday phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump “suggests to me the Chinese are being cautious.”
Indeed, some U.S. business leaders have struck a more somber tone than their Chinese counterparts on what Trump’s stated protectionist policies could bring. The real estate mogul has also called for tougher positions on immigration, potentially reducing the number of H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers who can enter the United States.
“I can’t think of any upside” to the Trump election win, Yasheng Huang, an associate dean at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said in opening remarks at the MIT conference Saturday. He said he saw at least two downsides, on immigration and foreign policy.
“There is a concern for all of us, for all the tech companies, (for) Chinese students, Indian students,” he said. “We need (them) for this community to develop vibrant technology and vibrant innovation.”