Washington: China warned it would fight back “at any cost” with fresh trade measures if the United States continues on its path of protectionism, hours after President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods.
Trump said the US has already lost any trade war, as he defended his proposed tariffs, saying the move might cause “a little pain” but the US will be better off in the long run.
“We’ve already lost the trade war. We don’t have a trade war, we’ve lost the trade war,” Mr Trump said in a radio interview with New York radio show early on Friday. In a Twitter message on Wednesday, he had said: “That war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.”
In light of China’s “unfair retaliation” against earlier US trade actions, Mr Trump upped the ante on Thursday by ordering US officials to identify extra tariffs, escalating a high stakes tit-for-tat confrontation with potentially damaging consequences for the world’s two biggest economies.
On Wednesday, China unveiled a list of 106 U.S. 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 has 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.
Responding to Mr Trump’s latest comments, the Chinese commerce ministry reiterated that China was not afraid of a trade war even though it did not seek one, and accused the US of provoking the conflict. “If the US disregards the objections of China and the international community and persists in unilateralism and trade protectionism, the Chinese side will follow through to the end, at any cost, and definitely fight back resolutely,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying on the ministry’s website.
The ministry has called for a media briefing on Friday night, in an unusual move on a public holiday.
Earlier in the day, Chinese state media had slammed Mr Trump’s threat of more trade action as “ridiculous”.
“This latest intimidation reflects the deep arrogance of some American elites in their attitude towards China,” Global Times said in an editorial.
While Beijing’s claims that US 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.