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Beijing sees your tariffs and raises you its high-stakes baccarat players.
LAS VEGAS — China has an oft-discounted weapon in any escalated trade war with President Trump, something that’s a concern to officials in Nevada: gamblers.
Should tariff talk escalate into action, officials fear China may retaliate with travel restrictions that cities like Las Vegas would feel acutely.
As the South China Morning Post reported last month, Wei Jianguo, a former vice minister of commerce in China has suggested Beijing could potentially curb tourism to the U.S.
“International tourism, particularly from China, is a critical market opportunity for Las Vegas and the United States as a whole,” U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat representing the Strip, told The Nevada Independent in a statement. “In fact, Chinese tourists spend the most of any international traveler to the U.S., according to the Department of Commerce, supporting the more than 15 million tourism jobs in our country.”
Titus continued: “Every empty airline seat from Beijing to Las Vegas means thousands of dollars of lost economic benefit to Southern Nevada.“
Even if China doesn’t limit travel, state-run media could discourage visits. The blow could be hefty considering more than 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Vegas in both 2015 and 2016, The Independent reported, and they prefer high-stakes games like baccarat.
Earlier this month, Trump floated $100 billion in additional tariffs after China responded to his 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 tariff on aluminum imports, which, as Route Fifty previously reported, has generated widespread concern among governors, with their own on 106 goods from soybeans to whiskey.
The new tariffs, if enacted, would target products used in robotics, information technology and aerospace—areas China has tried to gain ground on by hacking U.S. intellectual property.
State officials in Nevada and elsewhere continue to implore Trump to pursue negotiations instead.
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.