Trade war threatens China love of US barbecue

VIDEO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Made in America.

A symbol for high-quality pork served at Home Plate, this American-style BBQ restaurant, in a trendy Beijing neighbourhood favoured by ex-pats and Chinese locals alike. 

But that is now a source of anxiety for general manager Charles de Pellette.

"Realistically if the price goes up, we have to raise our prices. We have to make a choice as to whether the customer is willing to pay that or we have to switch to domestic meat. We've tried Spanish Iberico pork before, which is a little more expensive and it didn't just taste quite right. Domestic pork - the cuts on the ribs aren't right and it just doesn't taste that good. The simple fact is the American pork is just better."

Like many restaurants serving American pork across China, Home Plate is facing a 25 per cent price spike on its star meat. President Trump has ordered tariffs on US$34 billion (S$46.4 billion) worth of Chinese goods starting July 6th, and Beijing has vowed to retaliate with US pork on the list.

A person familiar with China's plan said their tariffs will go into effect start of Friday (July 6).

But the finance ministry on Wednesday said it will "absolutely not" be the first to deliver the opening strike in what promises to be a prolonged trade war, even though Friday in Beijing starts 12 hours before it does in Washington.

Said China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang: "China has already made preparations. As long as the United States issues a so-called tariff list, China will take necessary measures to firmly protect its legitimate interests."