Beijing: In his trade war with China, President Donald Trump wields one seeming advantage: The United States could ultimately slap tariffs on more than $500 billion in imported Chinese goods. Beijing has much less to tax: It imported just $130 billion in US goods last year.
Yet that hardly means China would be powerless to fight back once it ran out of US goods to penalise. It possesses a range of other weapons with which to inflict pain on the US economy.
Indeed, China's Commerce Ministry has warned of "comprehensive measures" it could take against the United States. It has given no details but possible tactics could include harassing automakers, retailers or other American companies that depend on China to drive revenue to selling US government debt or disrupting diplomatic efforts over North Korea.
Some of those steps might harm China's own interests. But Beijing might still be willing to deploy them, at least temporarily, if its trade war with Washington were to drag on.
On Friday, Washington imposed its first tariffs in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressuring companies to hand over technology. China swiftly announced retaliatory tariffs on a similar amount of US goods.
China's state-dominated and heavily regulated economy gives authorities an arsenal of tools to disrupt US companies by withholding licenses or launching tax, anti-monopoly or other investigati...