US President Donald Trump speaks on steel and aluminum tariffs during a meeting with industry leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN
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After threatening to retaliate if U.S. President Donald Trump raised trade barriers, Chinese leaders need to decide whether his hikes in steel and aluminum tariffs justify starting a fight that might disrupt access to one of China's biggest markets.Chinese officials have appealed to the White House since last March to avoid hurting both sides by disrupting aluminum trade.Adding to the political stakes in China, Trump's announcement came ahead of next week's meeting of its ceremonial legislature, the year's most prominent political event.Trade makes up a smaller share of China's economy than it did a decade ago.The United States, China's No. 2 trade partner after the EU, buys about 20 percent of Chinese exports but allows Beijing to run multibillion-dollar surpluses that offset its deficits with other partners.Last year, China exported goods worth $2.80 to the United States for every $1 of American goods it bought, according to Chinese data.
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