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Apple Could Be China’s ‘Bargaining Chip’ in U.S. Trade War, State-Run Media Warns

Apple might find itself in the middle of a possible trade war between the U.S. and China, a state-run media outlet said on Tuesday.

The state-run People’s Daily published a strongly worded story on Tuesday, saying that Apple has benefited greatly from China. The report said that China is “by far the most important overseas market” for the iPhone maker and absent improved relations between the U.S. and China over trade, Apple might find itself in the crosshairs.

“China doesn’t want to close its doors to Apple despite the trade conflict, but if the US company wants to earn good money in China, its needs to share its development dividends with the Chinese people,” the news outlet wrote. The report went on to dig into Apple’s financial performance and specifically said that China is only getting “1.8% of the total profits created” by the iPhone.

The report comes as tensions continue to rise between the U.S. and China over trade. President Donald Trump has specifically cited China as a trade threat and continues to say that the U.S. needs to do more to fight back.

China has of course fired back at the White House. And in the People’s Daily story, said that the “trade conflict” was started not by China but by the Trump administration.

Ultimately, the report says, China is now forced “to re-examine China-U.S. trade.” And it claims that U.S. companies, like Apple, are benefiting the most from China relations. The report called those companies, including Apple, “bargaining chips” in the conflict and suggested the iPhone maker might want to keep an eye out.

“If Apple wants to continue raking in enormous profits from the Chinese markets amid trade tensions, the company needs to do more to share the economic cake with local Chinese people,” the outlet wrote.