The proposal by a United States workers union to ban Chinese-made tires has US President Barack Obama bouncing between two very precarious positions.
The high-level tariffs, which would effectively impose a ban, will keep Chinese tire imports off US roads, strip 100,000 local laborers of their jobs and potentially spark a series of special taxes by other nations and regions.
On the one hand, Obama threatens to sour China-US relations, which the US values in this current economic crisis, by approving the tariffs. The decision, expected before Sept 17, represents Obama's first major test of the White House's trade agenda with an economically recovering China.
But on the other hand, Obama is wary of enraging the unions who support the case and blame Chinese tire imports for the loss of many US jobs.
The unions are an active and important political factor for the first-year president, having reportedly donated approximately $400 million to his election campaign.
"He has to balance benefits of both and make both happy," said Wang Rongjun, a professor at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"It's a game of wisdom. The decision is symbolic."
The proposed tariffs arose out of a petition brought by the United Steelworkers Union, which represents half of American tire makers. The International Trade Commission in April announced that tire imports from China had disrupted the US industry and proposed a three-year program of import relief, with a 55-percent-tariff on Chinese-made tires in the first year, 45 percent in the second and 35 percent in the third. Last Thursday, the US Trade Representative sent the recommendations to Obama.