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If the country opts to follow suit in a one-eye-for-one-eye manner, it would mean a near blanket 25% tariff on (In 2017, total imports from the US amounted to 130 billion USD).
In this sense, being rhetorically strong but substantively vague is all but rational.
The propaganda shaped the national psyche when confronted with Trump’s provocation.
The fact that the 10 sectors targeted by the US government were taken directly out of China’s catalogue of industries supported under the “Made in China 2025” strategy only intensified those sentiments.
Fluxing China’s engineering muscles has increasingly become part of broader patriotic propaganda in China.
In 2013, a CCTV documentary series, “The Pillars of a Great Power“, amplified the “engineering equals national strength” narrative in the public’s mind.
The message was not lost in Chinese online discussions, which seemed to be seized by a mixed sense of pride and threat.
As soon as China’s MOFCOM released its list of potential US products targeted for retaliation, online opinion leaders took note of the stark differences in the industries covered by each country’s measures.
The Chinese goods and services included in Trump’s proposed levies ranged from industrial robotics to new generation information technologies, whereas China’s matching list consisted almost entirely of agricultural products: pork, fruit and nuts.
That rhetoric escalated dramatically on Apr 6 upon Trump’s latest round of threat.
In a MOFCOM statement responding to the US President’s announcement of his intention to slap penalizing tariffs on 100 billion USD worth of Chinese imports on top of earlier measures, the words used was “to fight till the end” and “at all costs”, even though, curiously, China has so far refrained from announcing its counter measures against Trump’s 100 billion “bluff”.