Bluster aside, US and China vulnerable to pain from tariffs

In this June 21, 2018, photo, bales of cotton sit packed and labeled while waiting to be shipped from the South Central Georgia Gin Company in Enigma, Ga. The company estimates that 40-50 percent of the cotton processed at the gin is exported out of the country, China being one of the main recipients. (AP Photo/David Goldman) The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and Chinese governments have been flashing a lot of bravado just before firing the first shots in a conflict that risks erupting into a mutually damaging trade war.

“China will not bow in the face of threats and blackmail, nor will it be shaken in its resolve to defend global free trade,” a spokesman for Beijing’s Commerce Ministry declared Thursday, one day before the two sides were to subject billions of dollars of each other’s goods to tariffs.

President Donald Trump, who ran for the White House on a vow to force China and other nations to reform their policies, has insisted a trade war would be easy to win.

Yet among the people and business under threat from higher costs and closed-off markets, there’s far less confidence.