On Thursday morning, as Walmart delivered a stark warning that Donald Trump's widening trade war with China would lead to higher prices for American consumers, John Flynn stood in front of one of the US retailer's stores in Virginia defiantly defending the US president.

"I think he's doing the right thing, America is becoming very dependent on stuff from China," said Flynn, a 55-year-old real estate agent who grew up in the steel country of western Pennsylvania.

"If prices go up, prices go up. It's going to hurt them [the Chinese] in the long run too. So it's just a