China threatens to squeeze iPhone sales if Donald Trump initiates a trade war

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Apple and top automakers could be among the U.S. businesses that suffer if President-elect Donald Trump plays hardball with China over trade.

That’s according to an editorial from China’s state-run newspaper Global Times this weekend — via The Guardian — which included a thinly-veiled threat of repercussions if Trump takes action on pre-election comments. In September, Trump said he would impose a 45 percent tariff on imports from China if successfully elected.

Like many of Trump’s campaign comments, it remains to be seen what the incoming President’s policy will be. That hasn’t stopped the Global Times, one of China’s most notable government mouthpieces, from giving its take, however.

“China will take a tit-for-tat approach then. A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S.,” the paper wrote.

Global Times suggested that it is “a win-win situation” for all to maintain current agreements, and that there is too much at stake to do otherwise.

“Trump as a shrewd businessman will not be so naïve. None of the previous presidents were bold enough to launch an all-out trade war against China. They all opted for a cautious line since it’s most consistent with the overall interests of the U.S., and it’s most acceptable to U.S. society,” the editorial added.

The editorial was published right after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping communicated for the first time following the election result. Chinese media reported that the two have made plans to meet “at an early date.”

Apple, with its global reputation and vast wealth, is a popular target for politics. Trump has made choice comments on Apple and China in the past, demanding that the iPhone-maker produce its devices in its homeland rather than overseas. He also called for a boycott of its products after it rejected government requests to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In a memo to staff sent after last week’s election, Apple CEO Tim Cook urged employees to “move forward together” in spite of the political division in America right now. Cook didn’t make mention of Trump by name, nor did he address the President-elect’s past comments about Apple.