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Trump’s Plan to Save American Jobs by Slapping Tariffs on China Doesn’t Seem to Be Working

VICE News visits Kontech, a TV maker in Shenzhen that sends about a quarter of its products to the U.S., as they work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week trying to deliver as many orders as possible.

by Karen Ye
Sep 23 2019, 2:41pm

SHENZHEN, China — When Donald Trump talks about tariffs on China, he stresses protecting American workers. But the jobs aren’t exactly coming back to America.

Gong Pengfei’s company, BUD Electronics, used to make Bluetooth speakers for the U.S. market, which accounted for nearly half of his revenue. But his staff is now a third of the size it was last year.

“Since the trade war started, pretty much all of our customers in the U.S. have switched to Vietnam, the Middle East, India, and Thailand because of lower labor costs and that they aren't targeted by the tariffs,” Gong said.

His remaining workers seem to have faith in the Chinese economy, where demand still exists domestically and from countries that aren't the U.S.

“I’ve been in touch with colleagues who have been laid off, they all found suitable jobs pretty quickly,” said Liu Pingchao, an engineering technician at BUD Electronics. "As long as you have good skills, you won't be afraid of unemployment. If you are seriously looking, you can find a job within two or three days.

And the companies expected to be affected by Trump's new wave of tariffs have already planned ahead.

"We have already made a deal with our American clients to split the additional cost caused by the tariffs," said Yang Guohe, CEO of Kontech, a company that exports about half a million monitors to the U.S. every year for RVs, yachts, businesses, and even prisons. "Whether they make their customers pay for it or not, I don't care."

VICE News visited the other side to see how businesses in China are coping with Trump and Xi's war on trade.