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According to a poll by Reuters, Chinese residents at the street level are largely unbothered by US President Trump’s bluster and swapping of trade war rhetoric with China, though some mixed feelings on exactly how China should respond to the US.

Key quotes

“Reuters talked to a cross section of 50 people, mainly from the two cities, about how concerned they are about the trade war, what they think Beijing’s response would be, and whether they think Chinese people should boycott American products in retaliation.

The interviews showed there is no palpable sense of crisis or panic yet. There is division and confusion over how China should respond to Trump, with some arguing that Beijing should strike back at American interests but others saying they didn’t know what could be done.

But perhaps most worrying for American businesses selling in China, a significant minority of the people interviewed – 14, or 28 percent – want to stop buying American products now, and some say they are already boycotting anything made in the U.S. Others said they would continue to buy American but that could change in the future.

-Asked whether they were worried about the trade war, only 11 of the 50 (22 percent) said they were, and 39 (or 78 percent) said they weren’t concerned.

-Asked what Beijing should do in response to Trump’s punitive tariffs, 19 (or 38 percent) said that it should strike back hard. The rest came up with various responses, including a refocus on development of the domestic economy, building other export markets, while 8 (or 16 percent) said they had no idea what the government should do.

-Asked whether they would stop buying U.S. products, 14 said they would, 31 said they wouldn’t (some indicated their views could change if the trade war intensifies), and five didn’t have a view.

The straw poll’s sample is very small and clearly not scientific. The interviews were also conducted in a country where people are often guarded and may well not let foreign media know their real views. Any individual’s comments deemed inappropriate – criticism of Xi would fall into this category – could lead to trouble with the authorities.”