ZHUHAI, China—President Trump says U.S. tariffs are battering the Chinese economy, throwing millions of Chinese workers out of jobs—and pressuring the country’s president,
to strike a trade deal.
The reality is more nuanced. It is clear that China, after decades of rapid development, is grappling with a slowing growth pace and weaker sentiment among businesses and consumers. The country’s official measure of urban unemployment was near a record in August.
Much of this, however, is the result of the Chinese economy’s shift over the past decade from one reliant on manufacturing and exports to one where services and domestic consumption have gained importance as pillars of growth. Western economists who focus on China say its economy appears relatively robust, and its labor market is mostly stable—at least for now.
“It’s not like they have huge numbers of workers milling around and unhappiness with the government,” said
Nicholas R. Lardy,
a China specialist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.