China, Defiant but Careful, Promises Aggressive Response to Tariffs



Raymond Zhong | The New York Times

BEIJING — When the United States ratcheted up trade tensions with Beijing on Friday, the news was greeted with weariness and foreboding among the people in China who will pay the immediate price: owners of factories big and small.

Brook Chen runs a plant in Shanghai that makes suitcases for brands including Samsonite. More than four-fifths of his orders come from the United States.

The trade war, now nearly a year old, has already squeezed Mr. Chen’s bottom line. American customers insisted that he lower his prices so they wouldn’t have to raise theirs. When he contemplates moving production out of China — to Southeast Asia, for instance — he worries about losing access to China’s vast supply chain and capable work force.

“This is totally a lose-lose situation,” Mr. Chen said. “We lose profits and have to shut down. American importers cannot find effective alternatives that can deliver products with the same quality.”

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