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China Vows To Fight To The Finish If U.S. Escalates Trade War


This morning, China is vowing to fight the United States to the finish if the Trump administration continues to escalate what is becoming increasingly like a trade war.

The comments from Beijing came just hours after President Trump threatened to hit Chinese exports with a hundred billion in new tariffs - that is on top of the $50 billion he's already promised. This tariff dispute has left global markets uneasy as people wonder whether this is now a full-blown trade war. And let's bring in NPR's Anthony Kuhn, who's in Beijing. Hi, Anthony.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Hi there, David.

GREENE: I feel like I am saying so many massive numbers and have been throwing them around all week. Can you step back for just a second and remind us how we got here?

KUHN: Right. The first salvo in this battle was about steel and aluminum. And the U.S. accused China of dumping those metals, and so it imposed tariffs. China imposed similar tariffs.

The next one was about allegations that China is coercing U.S. companies to give up intellectual property. And so President Trump announced $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods, and China announced a similar amount. So only the first round has been implemented, the second two are still threats at this point.

GREENE: OK. So there are threats. But threats matter, right? I mean, there's an expectation that maybe some of these threats are just leading to some sort of negotiation. But we already have markets moving. We have American farmers, for example, very nervous. So what happens now?

KUHN: Well, I think the Chinese side expects this to go to negotiations. What they said today was that China will have to strike back resolutely and that it will fight to the finish. But I think they see this as basically staking out positions ahead of negotiations that will take place.

GREENE: It almost feels like a poker game in a way.

KUHN: A very high-stakes one. See your...


KUHN: ...$50 billion and raise you a hundred billion. But I don't think that's really what it's about. I think you could say this whole game is about who is going to control the technologies of the future. I think the U.S.'s real concern is that China is trying to get American firms' proprietary technology, and then once it gets that, shut foreign competitors out of the China market. But, you know, China is very determined to get these technologies, and it's not clear it's going to give them up.

GREENE: NPR's Anthony Kuhn reporting on this - these trade tensions between the United States and China from Beijing this morning. Thanks, Anthony.

KUHN: You're welcome, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.