China won’t buy Boeing planes, iPhones, or US corn if Trump starts a trade war, a state tabloid says

No corn for China.
No corn for China.
Image: Reuters/Jim Young
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US president-elect Donald Trump spent a lot of time China bashing on the campaign trail, labeling China a currency manipulator, accusing it of stealing jobs from the US, and threatening high tariffs on Chinese goods.

But during his first interaction with Chinese president Xi Jinping since the election, he was nothing but nice, Chinese state media reports. “China is a great and important country, and China’s development is remarkable to the world,” Trump was quoted as saying by Chinese state media CCTV (link in Chinese) in a phone call with Xi on Sunday (Nov. 14) night.

He also picked up on one of Beiijing’s key catchphrases, “win win,” state media reported. “The US and China can achieve mutual benefits and win-win results. I would love to work with you to enhance the cooperation between US and China. I believe the US-China relations will achieve better development,” Trump was cited as saying.

Xi called Trump to congratulate on his victory and said there are many areas where the two countries could cooperate. “The facts prove that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the US,” CCTV quoted Xi as saying.  Trump’s presidential transition office also confirmed the call on Nov. 14, saying the two leaders have “established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another.”

State-backed Chinese tabloid Global Times, though, took a much harder line, calling Trump’s earlier stance on China “unprofessional” and threatening retaliation if he started a trade war in an editorial. If Trump puts high tariffs on Chinese goods, it said:

A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the US.

The US’s top agricultural export to China in 2015 was soybeans, Chinese companies bought $102 billion in planes in 2015, and China is a key market for Apple’s iPhone sales.

The paper doesn’t reflect the official point of view of China’s government, but it does often reflect what government officials are actually thinking, editor Hu Xijin told Quartz earlier. In this case, then, they’re not thinking great things about Trump. If he “wrecks” China-US trade, he “will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence and bear all the consequences,” it says.

But they may share a similarly dark view of the US press—the editorial concludes “We are very suspicious the trade war scenario is a trap set up by some American media to trip up the new president.”