Chinese Weigh In On Biden’s Electric Vehicle Tariffs


China is a juggernaut in clean energy technology. In 2023, China exported $34 billion worth of EVs; nearly 60% of all the world’s E.V.s are also sold in China. The Shenzhen-based BYD is now Tesla’s largest global rival. The world’s leading exporter of all cars, China also leads in manufacture of battery storage as well as in solar and wind power installations.

China has a strange effect on Americans, uniting Democrats and Republicans in their new-found love of industrial policies and subsidies, trade protections, and barriers. President Trump, and now President Biden, have enacted big tariffs. Biden recently announced 100% tariffs on Chinese-made EVs.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the tariffs a “sign of weakness.” Xinhua News wrote, “New U.S. tariffs on Chinese products a blot on free trade.” And what about Chinese netizens? Here is a sampling of what they had to say on Weibo in the few days following Biden’s announcement on May 14.

  • Prof. Jin CR: The United States is closing their country!
  • BB very lovely: Hm… Are Chinese EVS exported to the U.S.? Could they be Teslas?
  • DD talks vehicles:  Tariffs of 100%? Why are Americans afraid of China’s new energy vehicles?
  • LJS 999: Finally, the American people are going to live the happy life as the Chinese people paying heavy duties on imported cars.
  • hywyr119-11Kam: You are using tariffs because you can’t win in the market. This is U.S. imperialism.
  • Jumanji band: Shall we increase tariffs on GM, Ford, and Tesla in China?
  • Tony is me: I hope to see a U.S. confident, relaxed, and open.
  • Shenzhen Bay small investor: We are not selling rare earths anymore.
  • I am SK 2012:  Determined to be friends with Putin, we are paying a price.
  • Car player DD: Shocking that the U.S. is increasing tariffs on Chinese EVs from 25% to 100%. It hasn’t been easy to sell Chinese EVs to the U.S. Now with the Americans raising tariffs, it would be even harder! So, does it also mean that our EVs are genuinely great and are making the U.S. worried!?
  • Xiang LG of Flying Elephant Net: This is a noose hanging around the neck of the American auto industry, do you see it, the American auto industry, not Chinese.
  • -_- 2nd senior brother: If this were a few years ago, China could take countermeasures, for at least at that time, China still imported quite a number American-made cars. Now, American auto industry is in decline and China’s is booming. No American cars are selling that well in China anymore. We can’t even use countermeasures.
  • Sharp sword in sky: It is you Americans and Europeans who first talked about environmental protection. Now you are setting up trade barriers and no more talk of the environment. All the slogans about protecting the environment and the earth day in and day out are just pretending.
  • Zhang JM: When you can’t do it, you play tricks. At least, try a new trick. We netizens have seen through your same old tricks. Product development needs competition. Only by competing with one another can we run farther. Flipping the table in anger when you can’t compete is one way to admit you aren’t good.
  • Schoolmate Little Y: China’s EVs have entered the market of many countries; United States is the only market they have not. With the latest increase in tariffs, it makes it even harder. In words, you say you are not “seeking to suppress China’s development” or “seeking to decouple with China”; but in action, you increase tariffs when you can’t compete. This is the logic of hegemony.
  • Yu FY: The Biden administration is so bad. The extent of the tariff increase is shocking! The old woman Yellen has stabbed us with a soft knife!
  • Western traveler: In the past half a century, one of the great achievements in international relations was the significant reduction of global trade tariffs. Can we still say this or is it outdated?
  • Pine tree with flowers: Anxiety is becoming rabies.
  • Waves up & down: Does it mean these industries of the United States can fully supply their domestic market?
  • Little dreams of thousand mountains: Take the path of Trump, leaving Trump with nowhere to go!
  • Zhuo-Y: We can just sell to its neighboring countries who would then turn around and resell to the U.S.
  • Yang T: The United States has completely fallen.
  • Gang leader H-Crypto: With such moves by Biden, how could the American inflation come down? It would simply be impossible to return to inflation of 2% as in the past.
  • Meowsla King Unit 2: In the short twenty-some years, the offence and the defense have switched! Americans, have you lost your confidence?
  • Happy and comfortable: In general, we can still “use the countryside to surround the cities” to start a prairie fire with a spark. From a global perspective, European market and American market are the most profitable. But if they choose to close off their market, they in fact are handing the market other than their own to China. There are great opportunities for Chinese vehicles.
  • Fish boss fishing: Americans are such bully. Can we also increase tariffs? 100% tariffs on all imported American products, parts, and components, piss off Americans; or how can it be if the U.S. increases tariffs on us and we don’t on them?
  • GX: The US, on the one hand, shows that it is “under capacity” in dealing with climate change, on the other hand, it smears China’s efforts to build advanced green industry as “overcapacity.”
  • Chen HB: Holding others back won’t make you run faster and farther.
  • Old tofu of Jinmen: When you have an advantage, you talk about the free market. When your advantage is thin or at a disadvantage, you practice protectionism in a big way. This is the so-called “beacon of nations.” Such actions are bringing U.S. credibility to the bottom of a valley. What a mess!
Wendy Liu
Wendy Liu
Wendy Liu of Mercer Island has been a consultant, translator, writer and interpreter. Her last book was tilted "My first impression of China--Washingtonians' First Trips to the Middle Kingdom."


  1. Thanks for sharing these fascinating comments from Weibo. I think the general response is correct: The U.S. is exhibiting weakness (and fear) by imposing tariffs rather than competing in the marketplace. On the other hand, China also has heavily subsidized its EV and green energy production. It doesn’t pretend, though, to be an advocate of free trade — like the U.S. does.

  2. No context in your recitation of Chinese critics of U.S. policy, Wendy, to increase U.S. manufacturing, using union workers with no government subsidies. An even playing field would remove the need for tariffs.

  3. The context is well known, Peter. China has always had a national industrial policy, Made in China 2025, for instance, aimed at developing strategic industries from information technology to electric vehicles, from biomedicine to robotics manufacturing. What is new is that the Bidenomics now embodies America’s new industrial policy: the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. A Council on Foreign Relations study pointed out the Biden industrial policy has pledged more than $805 billion in new subsidies for semiconductor manufacturing and research, climate and energy investments, and infrastructure spending. There are, of course, different studies or estimates of these subsidies.


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