20100122 raw chicken feet 18
Raw chicken feet can be purchased at a tuangou - 

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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Today China slapped tariffs on U.S. chicken. It's the latest in a series of trade spats between the two countries. Steel, tires, nylon, and now, chickens. Are we crossing the road to a trade war? Marketplace's Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong: Today's ruling could make U.S. chicken as much as 30 percent more expensive in China. Beijing argues U.S. farmers get unfair subsidies on what they feed their chickens.

What you may not expect is essentially, we're talking about chicken feet -- that's the part of the bird the Chinese really want. The valued claws go for 40 cents a pound in China, compared to 2 cents in the states. But as far as trade battles go, Shaun Rein at China Market Research does not see the sky falling.

Shaun Rein: For chicken feet, this is not huge business. But it is a message saying to the United States, let's not engage in a trade war at a serious level.

As in, back off. Chinese leaders, just like American politicians, cater to their constituents, too.

Rein: There's a lot of political jockeying for power right now. And it's important that Chinese leaders are not seen as being weak and caving in to too much foreign pressure.

For all the trade grievances, he says Beijing and Washington have kept things from getting out off hand. Rein says the key is avoiding a blow-up over the Chinese currency.

In Shanghai, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott