China hits out at US over “largest trade war in economic history”

China hits out at US over “largest trade war in economic history”


Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

US tariffs on up to US$34 billion of Chinese goods came into effect this morning, prompting China to accuse the US of initiating “the largest-scale trade war in economic history.”

The long-threatened duties of 25 per cent were implemented at midnight Washington time, and drew swift condemnation from China’s Commerce Ministry, Bloomberg reports.

“China promised to not fire the first shot, but to defend national core interests and the interests of the people it has no choice but to strike back as necessary,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

The response comes in the shape of 25 per cent tariffs on 545 US products, also worth up to US$34 billion, according to the BBC. Beijing has therefore sought to match, rather than exceed, US tariffs. The Wall Street Journal reports that the targeted US goods are focused on agriculture, vehicles and aquatic products.

The implementation of tariffs was a red line for Beijing, which warned that all progress made to date in recent trade talks would be abandoned if the US proceeded with the duties. That includes China’s offer to increase US imports to reduce its trade surplus with Washington.

Chinese state media struck an aggressive pose in response to the tariffs, with Xinhua reporting: ‘These tariffs violate the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and represents a typical “trade bully”, posing a grave threat to the security of global industry and value chains.’

In a separate commentary, Xinhua warned that, ‘China has made it abundantly clear that it will never surrender to blackmail or coercion. The Trump administration is better advised to drop off its delusion.’

The robust response will do little to appease a President Trump who seems determined to push Beijing hard. On Thursday, the President outlined the potential for tariffs on more than US$500 billion of Chinese goods, Reuters reports.

The President told reporters aboard Air Force One: “You have another 16 (billion dollars) in two weeks, and then, as you know, we have $200 billion in abeyance and then after the $200 billion, we have $300 billion in abeyance. Ok? So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300.”