Apple Store, Shanghai

Apple Store, Shanghai

The Chinese government, through the state-run Global Times newspaper, has said that iPhone sales ‘will suffer’ if president-elect Trump follows through on his threatened trade war when he takes office. The comment was made in response to Trump’s campaign promise to apply 45% tariffs to Chinese imports.

If Trump imposes a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports, China-US trade will be paralyzed. China will take a tit-for-tat approach then. A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback […]

The new president will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence and bear all the consequences.

The Global Times editorial also claimed that Trump would not in any case have the authority needed to apply the 45% tariff …

To impose a 45 percent tariff on imports from China is merely campaign rhetoric. The greatest authority a US president has is to impose tariffs of up to 15 percent for 150 days on all imported goods and the limit can only be broken on the condition that the country is declared to be in a state of emergency. Other than that, a US president can only demand a tariff increase on individual commodities.

The piece appears to be pitched directly to Trump, stating that ‘a shrewd businessman will not be so naïve’ and even suggesting that ‘the trade war scenario is a trap set up by some American media to trip up the new president.’

The Guardian reports that it is not just the Chinese who are hoping that the trade war threat was just empty talk.

Paul Haenle, a veteran US diplomat who is director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua centre at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, warned the introduction of protectionist measures would immediately “inject friction” into already fraught US-China ties as well as harming America’s own economy.

“If he follows through on a 45% trade tariff then I think it will be damaging to our own interests and we will have fallout that will affect our own companies and our own economy and it won’t be effective. It will not achieve what he is setting out to achieve. So from that standpoint he is going to have to moderate some of that rhetoric as he puts together actual concrete policies.”

China is a hugely important market to Apple. A weak Chinese economy mean that predictions of China overtaking the USA as Apple’s largest market haven’t yet come to pass, but it has already happened on the software side. Apple has been working on developing ever-closer ties with China, with not just one but two R&D centers in the works.

Also on the campaign rhetoric front, Trump claimed back in January that he would get Apple to start building ‘their damn computers and things’ in the U.S. rather than China. The editorial didn’t trouble itself with addressing this.

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