Beijing warned on Friday that it was prepared to impose new tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods if Washington ups the ante in the escalating U.S.-China trade war.
The Commerce Ministry issued a statement saying the new duties would be applied if Washington pulled the trigger on President Donald Trump’s threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The Chinese reaction is sure to ratchet up tensions with the Trump administration at the end of a week that saw stock markets rattled by the intensifying trade battle.
“China always believes that consultation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit is an effective way to resolve trade differences,” the Ministry said.
“Any unilateral threat or blackmail will only lead to intensification of conflicts and damage to the interests of all parties.”
‘Will depend on U.S.’
The statement said the date of implementation of the taxes will depend on the “actions of the U.S. side” and China reserves the right to apply “other countermeasures”.
The threat came a day after Chinese officials appealed for dialogue based on “mutual respect”, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi urging the U.S. on Thursday to remain “cool-headed”.
The Ministry threat came after Mr. Wang met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore on Friday.
Washington and Beijing are locked in battle over American accusations that China’s export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies, as well as theft of American technological know-how.
Raising the stakes
The U.S. already imposed 25% tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in early July, with another $16 billion to be targeted in coming weeks, drawing an in-kind retaliation from China.
Washington also unveiled a list of another $200 billion in Chinese goods, from areas as varied as electrical machinery, leather goods and seafood, that would be hit with 10% import duties.
But Mr. Trump raised the stakes this week by asking the U.S. Trade Representative to consider increasing the proposed tariffs on the $200 billion worth of goods to 25%.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry blamed the U.S. for escalating the situation.
“China to take necessary countermeasures to defend the country’s dignity and the interests of the people, defend free trade and the multilateral system, and defend the common interests of all countries in the world,” the statement said.
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