Compared with Yanfeng, Sanhua Automotive is a small fry, with just $50 million in North American sales. But Sanhua, which produces climate control components, has built a plant in Mexico to produce valves and heat exchangers for General Motors and other customers.
A 25 percent tariff on imports from China will hurt Sanhua, but the company isn't backing out of the U.S., said Tiger Lu, president of Sanhua's U.S. operation.
"The tariffs definitely impact our business, but we have a global expansion strategy," Lu said. "This could provide a little speed-up for our expansion."
Chinese suppliers in the U.S. are inclined to take the long view, said Michael Dunne, founder and CEO of California consulting firm ZoZo Go LLC.
"In the short run, suppliers are taking it on the chin," Dunne said. "Their profits are suffering, but not enough to deter them from staying the course."
To be sure, the tariffs may prove to be a bigger hindrance for Chinese automakers that want to ship vehicles to the United States. Jack Cheng, executive vice president of electric vehicle startup Nio Inc., said he wants to establish a niche in China before expanding into the U.S.
The company began selling its ES8 crossover last year, and now it's preparing to launch its ES6 model. "It will take some time," said Cheng, when asked about Nio's plans for the U.S. market.
When Nio does launch sales here, Cheng wants to make sure the car's autonomous technology can match Western standards. So Nio is beefing up its U.S. engineering staff.
One speaker warned that U.S.-China trade tensions are likely to persist after Trump has left office.
The two countries have serious differences over issues such as intellectual property, theft of trade secrets and other practices, said Mary Gallagher, director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan.
"There are a lot of legitimate U.S. beefs about theft of intellectual property and access to China's market," Gallagher said. "These issues are not going away in the short term."
Gallagher noted that she has studied U.S.-China trade for many years. "I don't think it's too extreme to use terms like 'trade war' and 'tech cold war,'" she warned. "This is the worst that I've seen."