Chinese netizens say they will ‘fight to death’ and ‘play the game’ in US-China trade war
Far from backing down, Chinese netizens are calling for their country to “fight back” as China and the United States continue their economic sabre-rattling amid fears of a trade war.
The show of solidarity with the Chinese Government and China’s threat to hit back run contrary to US President Donald Trump’s suggestion on Sunday — that China would ease trade barriers because “it is the right thing to do”.
Donald Trump tweet: President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do.
Last week, Mr Trump directed US trade officials to identify tariffs on an additional $100 billion of Chinese imports on top of the $US50 billion worth the US announced just days earlier.
China warned the US that it would learn a “painful lesson” if it followed through, while users on Chinese social media platform Weibo were quick to show their patriotism by cheering their country on.
“If America is going to play this game, we have 1.4 billion Chinese people to play to the end,” user Koukouliang wrote.
“Let’s fight back! China’s got the power that could not be defeated randomly by any other country,” wrote another.
“China must win this trade war!”
Similarly, another netizen said “we can only fight to death” if the “enemy” — referring to the US — did not want to spare China from the tariffs.
Meanwhile, others feared a trade war could cause massive price spikes on everyday goods, such as iPhones and soy beans.
China will fight war ‘with all resources’: Global Times
An editorial published on Monday by state-run Global Times said China would fight the US with the same spirit as it did during the Korean War more than 60 years ago.
It added that China needed to be prepared to fight the trade war “with all resources”.
“Beijing can make it a painful fight for Washington during the confrontation of every trade war and let the US suffer the same losses as China,” it said.
An article from Chinese state media Xinhua published on Sunday also said the move by the United States was contrary to the principles and spirit of the World Trade Organisation.
“It is a serious violation of the contractual spirit that the international business community upholds, and it is also a blatant challenge to the current multilateral trading system,” it said.
James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at UTS, said the Chinese response — that they would be playing by the World Trade Organisation rules as much as possible — was “a pretty smart one”.
“When the US put the tariffs on Chinese steel inputs, China immediately went to the WTO and tried to seek discussions with the US,” he said.
“The US rejected that invitation to discuss, which makes it look like China’s the one playing by the rules and the US isn’t.”
‘The Chinese can take more pain’: analyst
In contrast to Mr Trump’s comments last month that “trade wars are good, and easy to win”, Dr Laurenceson believed the US and China had large enough domestic economies to be able to stand their grounds for a very long time.
“I can’t see anything in the foreseeable future that would cause China to step back … so you’ll end up in more of a bit of a stalemate.”
Senior fellow at the Lowy Institute, Richard McGregor, expected the tension to go on for years and couldn’t see the conflict being resolved quickly because of declining strategic trust and rising strategic, economic and technological competition between two of the world’s largest economies.
“It is generally said that the Chinese can take more pain — that’s probably true,” he said.
“Chinese companies don’t have to respond to shareholders … they don’t have sort of a fractured multi-layered political system.
“It doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers for China or China won’t be hurt, but they can manage it politically more easily.”
Meanwhile, He-Ling Shi, an associate professor at the Department of Economics at Monash University, believed the trade war would be unlikely to eventuate.
“While Donald Trump initiated the list, it would take two months to get the Congress to approve it,” he said.
“During that period of time, I personally believe both America and China will have the second channel for further negotiation.
“And from Donald Trump’s initial intention, it was not to trigger the trade war, but using the trade war as a bargaining chip to force China to open the domestic market.”