The latest broadside fired by China in its trade war with the United States was a list of $16 billion in American imports subjected to a 25 percent retaliatory tariff.
The Wall Street Journal explained that China and other Asian nations have been adapting their refineries to the type of oil America supplies, so the U.S. product is more important than its share of total Chinese oil imports would suggest.
The June threat of 25 percent tariffs from Beijing caused Chinese imports to drop considerably in July and August, but other buyers took what China did not.
This argument would be much more difficult to make if China slapped tariffs on the oil it buys from the United States.
Reuters reported on Friday that China’s state-run oil firms lobbied hard to have American oil removed from the tariff list, which is an interesting inversion of the typical “state capitalism” model of government setting goals for private industry espoused by Beijing.