Will President Barack Obama look back on his decision to impose tariffs on imports of Chinese tires as opening Pandora’s Box? Certainly, the United Steelworkers – which made the initial complaint over tires – is pursing trade actions against China with renewed vigor. The union has members in a number of manufacturing industries that have been hit by low-cost (they say unfair) competition from overseas, including paper. It has joined forces with three US paper firms to file an antidumping case against Chinese and Indonesian manufacturers of shiny, coated paper. The US Commerce Department, not Obama, must pass judgment on this latest complaint. It means the president could face Beijing with his free trade credentials in slightly less disrepair, but he may still have to take the flak. Hu diplomatically noted to Obama at the UN that tariffs are in neither country’s best interests. China, meanwhile, has been at pains to stress that it isn’t protectionist. Demands from the country’s quality watchdog that pork imports from the US come with health certificates are a precaution against the spread of swine flu, not a trade restriction. For this to be a valid excuse, presumably the meat in question would have to be imported while still attached to a living pig. Beijing’s increasing willingness to stand up and fight its corner on trade issues is, of course, further evidence of its growing confidence and clout in international circles. Anyone doubting this should tune in to the October 1 parade marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of modern China. “The Chinese leadership believes that the country’s military strength has to be commensurate with its growing economic strength,” said Tai Ming Cheung, a defense expert from the University of California in San Diego.