June 20, 2018

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Raises Stakes in Trade Conflict With a $200 Billion Threat” (Business Day, June 19):

As President Trump stumbles toward an all-out trade war with China, most attention is being paid to the damaging effects it would have on the American economy, including many of his own supporters. But we also need to recognize the enormous effect it would likely have on China, a point Trump officials seek to emphasize (front page, June 20).

For example, even after 25 years of scorching growth, the American economy remains more than a third larger than China’s, and American consumers remain the No. 1 target for Chinese exports. Factor in the $1.2 trillion in United States debt owned by China, and it’s clear which country has more to lose economically.

Yet missing from the White House analysis are the political risks to President Xi Jinping, who staked his recent assumption of near-dictatorial powers on an ability to bring sustained economic growth and stability to China. Instead of disrupting this vision, he is far more likely to seek conciliation, including in vital sectors like emerging technologies.

As any clear-thinking economist will tell you, trade wars are a fool’s errand. But perhaps out of all of this Trump bluster and brinkmanship, both sides will recognize the need for a better and fairer trade relationship, one that accounts for China’s impressive rise, and America’s legitimate grievances.

Photo: Shipping containers stacked in the Kwai Tsing Terminals in Hong Kong. Courtesy of Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE, via REX and Shutterstock.