US-China trade war: China says retaliatory tariffs in effect after US launched 'largest trade war in economic history'

Besides going to the WTO, China also said it would work with other countries to promote free trade.
Besides going to the WTO, China also said it would work with other countries to promote free trade. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - China on Friday (July 6) said it had imposed retaliatory measures on US goods, as it accused Washington of launching the “the largest trade war in economic history”  after Washington imposed 25-per-cent tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports at the stroke of midnight.

“After the US activated its tariff measures against China, China’s measures against the US took effect immediately,” said Lu Kang, spokesman for the foreign ministry.  

Lu declined to say the value of US goods hit by new tariffs but the commerce ministry had previously released a list that matched Washington’s US$34 billion dollar for dollar. 

China’s commerce ministry said in a statement posted on its website on 12:05pm, four minutes after the US tariffs took effect that the US violated World Trade Organisation rules and launched “the largest trade war in economic history to date”. 

“This type of tariff levying is typical trade bullying, and seriously jeopardises the security of the global industrial chain and value chain, hindering the pace of global economic recovery and triggering global market turmoil,” the statement said. 

"China promised not to fight the first shot, but in order to defend the core interests of the country and the interests of the people, we are forced to take the necessary countermeasures."

The statement did not specify what those countermeasures would entail beyond taking the case to the WTO, though the ministry had previously said it would hit back with new border taxes on an equal amount of US goods.

Besides going to the WTO, China also said it would work with other countries to promote free trade, as Trump engages in battles with historical trading partners around the world.  

But despite the rhetoric, Friday’s tariffs could be the opening skirmishes in the war, as Trump has vowed to impose duties on as much as US$450 billion in Chinese goods, the vast majority of imports.

Below is a translation of the full statement posted on the Commerce Ministry's website:

"Remarks from Ministry of Commerce spokesperson on US imposing tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese products.

On July 6, the United States began to impose an additional 25 per cent tariff on US$34 billion of Chinese products. The United States has violated World Trade Organisation rules and ignited the largest trade war in economic history. Such tariffs are typical trade bullying, and this action threatens global supply chains and value chains, stalls the global economic recovery, triggers global market turmoil, and will hurt more innocent multinational corporations, enterprises and ordinary consumers. It will harm, not help, America’s businesses and people.

China has promised not to fire the first shot, but to defend the nation’s core interests and the people’s interests we are forced to fight back. We will promptly inform the WTO about the situation and work with countries around the world to defend free trade and the multilateral system. At the same time, China reiterates that we will continue to deepen reform, expand opening up, protect entrepreneurship, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, and create a favorable business environment for companies from all over the world operating in China. We will continue to assess the impact on companies and work to take effective measures to help business."       

trade war