China says to ‘take countermeasures’ after new US tariffs

US President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China on Sept 17, 2018, imposing 10 per cent tariffs on about US$200 billion (S$275 billion) worth of Chinese imports.
US President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China on Sept 17, 2018, imposing 10 per cent tariffs on about US$200 billion (S$275 billion) worth of Chinese imports.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING/TIANJIN (AFP, REUTERS) - China said Tuesday (Sept 18) it would “take countermeasures” after US President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports taking effect next week. 

“In order to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and the global free trade order, China has no choice but to take countermeasures in lockstep,” the commerce ministry said in the statement, which did not mention a previous threat to add tariffs on US$60 billion in US imports if Washington imposed this new wave of levies.

“The US insists on increasing tariffs, which brings new uncertainty to the consultations between the two sides,” the ministry said. 

President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China on Monday, imposing 10 per cent tariffs on about US$200 billion (S$275 billion) worth of Chinese imports.

The tariffs on the US$200 billion list will start on September 24, according to a senior US administration official.

Trump also threatened to "immediately pursue" tariffs on another US$267 billion of imports if China retaliates.

The trade actions against China will not work as China has ample fiscal and monetary policy tools to cope with the impact, a senior securities market official said earlier on Tuesday.

Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), said at a conference in Tianjin that he hopes the two sides can sit down and negotiate on trade and that he looks forward to good China-US trade relations over the long term.

"President Trump is a hard-hitting businessman, and he tries to put pressure on China so he can get concessions from our negotiations. I think that kind of tactic is not going to work with China.

"If he puts tariffs on all Chinese exports to the United States - which he says he will - even in that scenario, the negative impact on China's economy is about 0.7 per cent," Fang said.

He did not specify on whether he was referring to the impact on the amount of gross domestic product (GDP) or the growth rate of GDP.

The US has "poisoned" the atmosphere for negotiations, Fang said, but added that the two sides can talk about how to cut the US trade deficit with China.

Vice-Premier Liu He convened a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday morning to discuss the government's response to the US decision, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person briefed on the matter.

The Chinese government may decline to participate in proposed trade talks with the United States later this month if the Trump administration moves forward with additional tariffs on imported Chinese goods, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing Chinese officials.

The South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday, citing an unidentified government source in Beijing, that China likely will not send a trade delegation to Washington after the Trump administration's latest tariff announcement.

The report said China is reviewing its previous plans to send a delegation headed by Vice-Premier Liu to the US next week for fresh round of talks.

The source told the paper that Beijing has not yet made a final decision but that a show of "sufficient goodwill" was a precondition for the planned talks.