China slams U.S. 'blackmailing' after Trump makes new trade threat
China accused the United States on Tuesday of "extreme pressure and blackmailing" and vowed to retaliate after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose a 10 per cent tariff on $200 billion US of Chinese goods in an escalation of the trade conflict between the world's two biggest economies.
Trump's move on Monday, as Washington fights trade battles on several fronts, was unexpectedly swift and sharp, hitting stock China's stock market hard as well as pushing Wall Street lower at the start of trade on Tuesday.
It was retaliation, Trump said, for China's decision to raise tariffs on $50 billion US in U.S. goods, which came after Trump announced similar tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.
China's commerce ministry said Beijing will fight back with "qualitative" and "quantitative" measures if the United States publishes an additional list of tariffs on Chinese goods.
"Such a practice of extreme pressure and blackmailing deviates from the consensus reached by both sides on multiple occasions," the ministry said in a statement.
"The United States has initiated a trade war and violated market regulations, and is harming the interests of not just the people of China and the U.S., but of the world."
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Tuesday that multiple rounds of talks between U.S. and Chinese officials had not yielded progress over a growing trade dispute, spurring tariffs that he said were needed to defend U.S. interests.
"Our phone lines are open, they have always been open," Navarro told reporters on a conference call.
Washington and Beijing appeared increasingly headed toward open trade conflict after several rounds of talks failed to resolve U.S. complaints over Chinese industrial policies, lack of market access in China and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit.
"After the legal process is complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced," Trump said in a statement on Monday.
U.S. business groups said members were bracing for a backlash from the Chinese government that would affect all American firms in China, not just in sectors facing tariffs.
Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council in Beijing, said China would undoubtedly "begin looking at other ways to enforce action against U.S companies that are operating in the market."
Some companies have reported Beijing is meeting with Chinese businesses to discuss shifting contracts for U.S. goods and services to suppliers from Europe or Japan, or to local Chinese firms, Parker said.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said his office was preparing the proposed tariffs and they would undergo a similar legal process as previous ones, which were subject to a public comment period, a public hearing and some revisions. He did not say when the new target list would be unveiled.
"As China hawks, like Lighthizer and (Peter) Navarro, appear to have gained power within the Trump administration lately, an all-out trade war now seems more inevitable," said Yasunari Ueno, chief market analyst at Mizuho Securities in Japan.
On Friday, Trump said he was pushing ahead with a 25 per cent tariff on $50 billion US worth of Chinese products, prompting Beijing to respond in kind.
Some of those tariffs will be applied from July 6, while the White House is expected to announce restrictions on investments by Chinese companies in the United States by June 30.
An initial list had included articles like televisions that were later removed, with semiconductors being added.
"China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology. Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong," Trump said.
Trump said if China increases its tariffs again in response to the latest U.S. move, "we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion US of goods."
Trump said he has "an excellent relationship" with Chinese President Xi Jinping and they "will continue working together on many issues."
But, he said, "the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world."