Chinese consumers ready to boycott US goods, survey shows
Trade weapon is locked and loaded, but Beijing is showing restraint
A new survey has found that a majority of Chinese consumers are prepared to stop buying US products in response to the Trump administration placing tariffs on Chinese goods.
54% of respondents across 300 Chinese cities would “probably” or “definitely” shy away from US products, the study, conducted by FT Confidential Research, found. Only 13% of the 2,000 who responded said they would not boycott.
The Chinese public has a history of retaliating against the country’s trading partners with their pocketbooks in response to political friction. Most recently, Chinese consumers and tourists lashed out at South Korea for deploying a US-made missile defense system, amid encouragement from state media.
In the case of the ongoing trade conflict with the US, Beijing has been careful not to call for a boycott to US products, a reticence that has been seen by some as a signal that China is keen on restarting negotiations.
Others have pointed out that many US products sold in China are produced there, and sold through subsidiaries that are partly owned by Chinese entities. While US corporations rely on the profits from the huge and growing Chinese market, Beijing might be wary of collateral damage.
In response to the Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on US$34 billion in Chinese imports, Beijing imposed matching retaliatory tariffs. Should the US follow through on a proposed second round of tariffs on US$200 billion in goods, China would have to resort to other retaliatory measures as they do not import enough goods form the US to match that number.