China’s leaders sound supremely confident that they can win a trade war with President Trump.
The state news media has depicted him as a reckless bully intent on undermining the global trading system, while presenting the Chinese government as a fair-minded champion of free trade. And China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has used the standoff to reinforce the Communist Party’s message that the United States is determined to stop China’s rise — but that it no longer can. China is already too strong, its economy too big.
“China is not afraid of a trade war,” the vice minister of finance, Zhu Guangyao, declared at a news conference to discuss possible countermeasures. More than once, he cited the history of the “new China” — which began its extraordinary economic revival four decades ago — as evidence that it would “never succumb to external pressure.”
Missing in the bluster and the propaganda are the questionable methods that China has adopted to squeeze foreign companies out of key technology markets — and the fact that in the cold-eyed calculus of economics, China is more vulnerable to a trade war than officials admit.