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U.S. Weighs Tariff Relief but Some Fear China Will Take Advantage


Some analysts have said that Mr. Trump’s trade war and China’s strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus have encouraged companies to move their supply chains, because many factories were shut down for weeks. But the spread of the virus around the world, and China’s early recovery from it, could change that calculation.

“As the virus spreads internationally, China will get more opportunities, including in the reduction of pressure to transfer the international industrial chain away from China,” according to a March 9 report jointly written by the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, an economic research institute set up by the city of Shanghai, and the China Institute of Finance Research Group at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Xu Xiaolan, the president of the China Industrial Internet Research Institute at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, wrote in an online essay that recovery from the virus could accelerate China’s push toward technologies like the internet of things and 5G.

“Based on China’s national system advantages, better infrastructure, huge mature consumer market, improved labor quality and advanced technologies — including big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence — China will accelerate in the post-epidemic era with transformations characterized by ‘online’ and ‘industrial interconnection,’” she wrote.

China has already begun to portray itself as a leader in a global health crisis, at a moment when the United States is more absent on the international stage than its has been in decades. While maligned for its initial cover-up of the spread of the virus, China is now aggressively publicizing its efforts to provide other countries with medical supplies and genetic data to combat the coronavirus.

It has agreed to send masks, ventilators, respirators and test kits to Italy as part of an aid package. On Friday, the Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma said that his foundation had sourced and prepared 500,000 testing kits and one million masks to be donated to the United States, after efforts to donate materials to Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.

“The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country,” Mr. Ma wrote. “United we stand, divided we fall!”

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