China Could Target US Firms, Debt if Trump Plays Hardball - NBC 7 San Diego
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

China Could Target US Firms, Debt if Trump Plays Hardball

Trump has threatened higher tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints Beijing violates its free-trade commitments

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Chargers Make Unexpected Kicking Change
    AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
    In this May 4, 2018, photo, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, second from left, leaves his hotel in Beijing for trade negotiations with Chinese officials. In a looming trade war between the world's two largest economies, American companies in China may have a bull's-eye on their backs.

    In a looming trade war between the world's two largest economies, American companies in China may have a bull's-eye on their backs.

    The Trump administration is pushing China to cut its trade surplus with the United States by $200 billion by the end of 2020 and give up policies that favor domestic companies — the core of Beijing's state-led economic model.

    As the two sides exchange threats of tariff hikes, their lopsided trade balance means China will run out of imports for retaliation before President Donald Trump does.

    But Beijing has other ways to inflict pain. Chief among those is harassing American companies that make autos, operate restaurant chains, sell computer software and do other business in China's heavily regulated economy.

    'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump’s Post-Midterms Depression

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump’s Post-Midterms Depression

    Seth Meyers takes a closer look at President Donald Trump's post-election funk as the blue wave that put Democrats in charge of the House keeps getting bigger.

    (Published 2 hours ago)

    Other possible options include selling U.S. government debt or disrupting diplomatic efforts over North Korea, but those would damage Beijing's own interests.

    Trump has threatened higher tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints Beijing violates its free-trade commitments by stealing or pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology.

    Beijing reacted to his first round with a $50 billion list including American aircraft, soybeans and pork for possible retaliation. If it raises that to match Trump's total, that would be nearly equal to China's 2017 imports of U.S. goods.

    The Commerce Ministry has warned that no option is off the table.

    TARGET AMERICAN COMPANIES
    Chinese regulators have wide discretion and an arsenal of tools to disrupt U.S. businesses from withholding licenses to launching tax, anti-monopoly or other investigations.

    The U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. might serve as an early example. China is the final major government withholding approval of Qualcomm's proposal for its $44 billion acquisition of rival NXP Semiconductors.

    This Kentucky Election Was Decided by a Coin Toss

    [NATL] This Kentucky Election Was Decided by a Coin Toss

    One week after the votes were counted, a coin toss was used to settle a City Council race that ended in a tie in Crescent Springs, Kentucky. Jennine Bell Smith and Patrick Hackett, both write-in candidates for Crescent Springs City Council, tied with exactly 79 votes. 

    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018)

    In April, the Commerce Ministry said Qualcomm's proposal "has difficulty" resolving concerns of Chinese anti-monopoly regulators. Qualcomm and NXP said April 19 that at the Chinese ministry's request, the companies withdrew and refiled an application for Beijing to clear the acquisition.

    China's entirely state-controlled media have encouraged consumer boycotts against Japanese, South Korean and other products during previous disputes with those governments.

    "China can harm the interests of the United States by limiting the operations of multinational corporations," said Jin Canrong, a foreign relations specialist at Beijing's Renmin University, in comments to the website wallstreetcn.com.

    Jin pointed to the example of South Korean retailer Lotte, whose business was destroyed by Beijing last year after it sold land to the Seoul government for an anti-missile system opposed by Chinese leaders.

    Beijing retaliated by closing most of Lotte's 99 supermarkets and other outlets in China. Seoul and Beijing later mended relations, but South Korean news reports said Lotte has given up on China and is trying to sell its stores.

    "Already we are hearing that approvals for some types of licenses for U.S. firms operating are being put on hold," the Eurasia Group said in a report.

    New Congress Takes Shape With Democratic Controlled House

    [NATL] New Congress Takes Shape With Democratic Controlled House

    For newly elected Democratic House members, it's freshmen orientation at Capitol Hill- and a message. "Part of our role is investigations, part of our role is oversight, and a lot of our role is to try to get some legislation passed that will help improve this country," said Florida's Donna Shalala.

    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018)

    FINANCIAL LEVERAGE
    Chinese commentators say Beijing has financial weapons, though using them would cost China's own economy and international standing.

    Nationalists point to China's $1.2 trillion holdings of U.S. government debt as leverage. But Beijing would suffer losses if it sold enough of that to influence U.S. debt financing costs. And there are few other places to store such vast foreign currency reserves.

    Beijing also could obstruct U.S. investment in China, wrote commentator Ren Zeping on money.163.com. But that also would impose a cost by worsening an investment slump Chinese leaders are trying to reverse.

    Regulators could depress the state-controlled exchange rate for China's yuan against the dollar. That could help Chinese exporters and make U.S. imports more expensive. But it would carry a political cost by hurting other trading partners and making Beijing look reckless, possibly destabilizing financial markets.

    DIPLOMATIC PRESSURE
    Beijing can appeal for support to U.S. allies that are miffed by Trump's "America first" approach and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate pact and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade agreement.

    Trump's unilateral actions have allowed China, the most-closed major economy, to position itself as a defender of free trade. That could help Beijing win over governments that have criticized Trump for acting outside the World Trade Organization.

    'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump’s Panic Over Blue Wave

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump’s Panic Over Blue Wave

    Seth Meyers takes a closer look at the Trump White House panicking as the midterm elections results get worse and the Russia investigation looms.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018)

    China is a "central pillar" of the global trading system, "and we want to fully cooperate with China," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a visit to Beijing last month.

    Beijing also has potential support from American companies and business groups that have criticized Trump and favor globalization.

    More broadly, Chinese commentators have suggested Beijing also could disrupt diplomatic work over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs or other initiatives. But analysts say that would risk setting back work Chinese leaders see as a priority.