Facing a possible US tariff hike, one of China's biggest ball bearing makers, Cixin Group, is weighing plans to rush shipments to American customers before the increase makes its sales unprofitable.
The company in the eastern city of Ningbo is among exporters of goods from motorcycle parts to electronics that are scrambling to cope with President Donald Trump's higher duties by shipping early, raising prices or finding new markets.
The 25 per cent increase would turn Cixin's profits to losses in the US market.
Some companies are looking at ways to hide their Chinese origin by shipping goods through other countries.
"Maybe customers will buy from South America, and then South America sells to the US," said Yvonne Yuan, a sales manager for Shenzhen Tianya Lighting Co., a manufacturer of LED bulbs.
Trump says higher duties on $US50 billion of Chinese goods are meant to punish Beijing for stealing or pressuring foreign companies to hand over foreign technology.
The plan targets goods US officials say benefit from improper Chinese policies including machinery, industrial components and aerospace, telecoms and other technology.
Economists and Chinese officials say the tariff hike's overall impact on China should be limited. But for exporters that depend on the US market, the potential costs are alarming.
Knock-on effects could greatly increase the impact, Moody's Investors Service researchers said in a report.
It said that Chinese manufacturers that supply inputs to targeted sectors would see reduced demand and more pricing pressure, spreading the effects of tariffs deeper into the Chinese economy.
Manufacturing and processing of metals and metal products, as the key input sectors for technology-product manufacturing, would be hurt the most.
Chinese exporters supply most of the world's mobile phones, personal computers, televisions, toys and other light manufactured goods from thousands of factories.
The United States buys about 20 per cent of China's exports. But Americans are especially important to exporters because they buy electronics and other high-value goods, including many targeted by Trump's tariffs.
Makers of motorcycle components plan to use that leverage to ask buyers to split the cost if tariffs rise, said Pan Jianle, an official of the Motorcycle Parts Association in Wenzhou.
Electronics manufacturers also plan to ask buyers to share higher costs, said Li Zengyou, secretary general of the local manufacturing chamber of commerce in the eastern city of Zibo in Shandong province.
Australian Associated Press