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This time, China can fight back against tariffs

Xi and Trump
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during President Trump's visit to Beijing in November 2017. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images

In 2002, President George W. Bush slapped steep tariffs on steel imports, warning about the collapse of the U.S. steel industry, then lifted them 21 months later to avoid a trade war with the European Union and Japan. Sixteen years later, President Trump is imposing steel tariffs of his own — but this time, the most powerful potential trade war foe is China.

The bottom line: China's capability to retaliate against Trump's tariffs now rivals that of the entire EU, and with Beijing's economic clout continuing to grow these tariffs may be the last time the U.S. gets to set the terms of engagement with China.