Donald Trump doubles down on China tariffs, Beijing unfazed

Washington/Beijing: China warned on Friday it was fully prepared to respond with a “fierce counter strike” of fresh trade measures if the US follows through on President Donald Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods.

In light of China’s “unfair retaliation” against earlier US trade actions, Trump upped the ante on Thursday by ordering US officials to identify extra tariffs, escalating a trade war with potentially damaging consequences for the world’s two biggest economies.

China’s commerce ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, called the US action “extremely mistaken” and unjustified, adding that the spat was a struggle between unilateralism and multilateralism. He also said no negotiations were likely in the current circumstances.

“The result of this behaviour is to smash your own foot with a stone,” Gao told a news briefing in Beijing. “If the US announces an additional $100 billion list of tariffs, China has already fully prepared, and will not hesitate to immediately make, a fierce counter strike.”

Gao was speaking shortly after Trump defended his proposed China tariffs, saying the move might cause “a little pain” but the US will be better off in the long run.

“I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain, but the market has gone up 40%, 42%, so we might lose a little bit of it,” Trump said in an interview with a radio station on Friday.

“So we may take a hit and you know what, ultimately we’re going to be much stronger for it.”

The top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said on Friday: “Blame China, don’t blame Trump,” for any trade fight. He dismissed the notion that a trade war is inevitable, stressing that it’s just a proposal to raise US tariffs on an additional $100 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Trump tweeted moments later, criticizing the World Trade Organization (WTO) and suggesting it’s “unfair” to the US.

On Wednesday, China unveiled a list of 106 US goods—from soybeans and whiskey to frozen beef and aircraft—targeted for tariffs, in a swift retaliatory move only hours after the Trump administration proposed duties on some 1,300 Chinese industrial, technology, transport and medical products.

Washington called for the $50 billion in extra duties after it said a probe determined Chinese government policies are designed to transfer US intellectual property to Chinese companies and allow them to seize leadership in key high-technology industries of the future.

China said it was not afraid of a trade war, even though it did not seek one, and accused the US of provoking the conflict. Gao said comments from US officials about ongoing talks about trade issues were incorrect.

“Under these conditions, the two sides cannot conduct any negotiations on this issue,” Gao said, without elaborating.

While Beijing claims that Washington is the aggressor and is spurring global protectionism, China’s trading partners have complained for years that it abuses WTO rules and propagates unfair policies at home that lock foreign firms out of some sectors as domestic champions are being nurtured.

China has repeatedly vowed that it would open up sectors such as financial services.

President Xi Jinping is expected to unveil fresh measures on reform and his country’s opening up next week at the high-profile Boao Forum, China’s equivalent of Davos, in the southern island province of Hainan.

So far, US information technology products from mobile phones to personal computers have largely escaped the ire of Beijing. livemint