Are iPhones about to become a bargaining chip in Trump's China trade talks?

Lynsey Barber
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China threatens a "tit-for-tat" approach on trade (Source: Getty)

"Making things difficult for China politically will do him no good."

That was the gist of an op-ed column in a state run newspaper in China yesterday, which amounted to a threat to take action against any measures on trade with China put forward by Trump: "China will take a tit-for-tat approach then."

And iPhones could be just one of those areas.

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"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 President-elect has lamented the loss of US manufacturing and vowed to return it through slapping China - where much of the production has moved, including making iPhones - with tariffs of 45 per cent on goods exported to the US.

"Almost all experts on US-China trade believe that Trump's declaration on the bilateral economy is unprofessional. The yuan's inclusion in the SDR basket has attested to the marketisation of China's exchange rate," read the op-ed in the communist-controlled newspaper Global Times.

"Trump's accusations against China for currency manipulation cannot hold water. If he does list China as a currency manipulator and slap steep tariffs on Chinese imports, China will take countermeasures."

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The piece did not hold back on its thoughts on Trump's plans, accusing him of being reckless, ignorant, incompetent and naive if her were to go ahead with such a move, and saying trade between the two countries would be parlysed.

"If Trump wrecks Sino-US trade, a number of US industries will be impaired. Finally the new president will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence and bear all the consequences. We are very suspicious the trade war scenario is a trap set up by some American media to trip up the new president," the piece concluded.

Apple is planning to increase its investment in China with a new research and design centre which is expected to open later this year, and it is being targeted as a major growth market in terns of sales.

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