The wild card that could determine whether the U.S. enters into a trade war with China is the head of the new White House National Trade Council, says one China watcher. Fred Katayama reports.
President Donald Trump walked away from his campaign vow of naming China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. But his phone chat with Taiwan's president and his threats to slap high tariffs on Chinese goods have ratcheted up tensions with the world's second largest economy. China has threatened to "take off the gloves." Leland Miller of China Beige Book sees one of two scenarios under Trump: strong U.S. growth or a trade war with China that could dent that growth: SOUNDBITE: LELAND MILLER, PRESIDENT ,CHINA BEIGE BOOK, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You have some of these threats Trump wielded during the campaign about tariffs and other things - if that takes precedence, then you're going to have a much worse situation. So it's the clash between what should be a very pro-growth agenda for this very first year with this shadow of trade warfare hanging over it, and it just depends on which direction the president wants to lead us." The wild card, according to Miller: the hard line economist Peter Navarro, whom Trump has named to head the newly formed White House National Trade Council. He wrote the book and directed the documentary, "Death by China." Miller says it's unclear what Navarro will do and how much power his council will have. Should a trade war break out, U.S. exporters will be among the most vulnerable. Milken Institute Asia Fellow Curtis Chin was formerly the U.S. ambassador to the Asian Development Bank. SOUNDBITE: CURTIS CHIN, ASIA FELLOW, MILKEN INSTITUTE, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Airplanes. Boeing front and center. China, Chinese airlines are big customers of Boeing. But also, the United States is the biggest agricultural exporter in the world. China buys a lot of those exports." China's own exports fell for the second straight year, And with other signs that its economy is slowing, China watchers say U.S. relations with China could become more volatile than they think.