At the heart of the intensifying trade dispute between the United States and China is a fundamental question: Which country is more willing to endure short-term pain for the long-term gain of playing a leading role in high-tech industries.

The New York Times reported that China has embarked on an aggressive and expensive plan to retool its economy for the future as it moves to dominate in robotics, aerospace, artificial intelligence and more. President Trump has said China’s approach relies on unfair and predatory practices, and on stolen American technology. And even as Chinese leaders say they want to avoid a trade war, they are staunchly defending their plans and showing little sign of backing down.

Trump’s threat to sharply escalate the administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports — a threat he reiterated on Friday — shows that neither side has yet gone far enough to persuade the other to compromise. Bigger and broader tariffs may be necessary to get China’s attention.

“The administration, if it’s serious, better be prepared for much more,” said Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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