China state media condemn US tariffs, but leave room for negotiation

Security guards walk in front of containers at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, China, on April 24, 2018.
Security guards walk in front of containers at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, China, on April 24, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China responded forcefully in state media on Saturday (June 16) after the administration of US President Donald Trump said it would impose tariffs on US$50 billion (S$67 billion) of Chinese imports, but some commentary left room for further negotiations.

Late on Friday, China said it would impose additional 25 per cent tariffs on 659 US goods worth US$50 billion, in response to the US imposition of tariffs.

"The wise man builds bridges, the fool builds walls," the official Xinhua news agency said in an editorial, echoing official comments that China would defend its interests in a trade war.

"Following the path of expanding and opening up is China's best response to the trade dispute between China and the United States, and is also the responsibility that major countries should have to the world," it added.

An editorial in the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily condemned what it called the Trump administration's "obsession with playing the disgraceful role of global economic disruptor".

It said: "There is no winner in a trade war, and the US instigation of a trade war is extremely destructive to global trade, economic globalisation, multilateral trade systems and global production supply chains."

"The whole world will be picking up the bill for the mistaken acts of US unilateralism."

The Global Times, a tabloid run by the People's Daily, called the US move "an irresponsible act on behalf of the White House to disrupt international trade just to appeal to American voters who are convinced their president is fighting for them".

In an editorial, the official English-language China Daily said the measure was "a stark violation of the core spirit of recent trade talks between China and the United States and is set to backfire if Washington doesn't back off from its dangerous adventurism".

 

While calling Trump's administration "inconsistent and precarious", it expressed hope a trade war might yet be averted.

"Given the frequent flip-flopping of the Donald Trump administration, it is still too early to conclude that a trade war will start," the editorial said, adding that China's stance had been consistent.

"(China) welcomes dialogue and is not afraid of trade war threats."

The reaction to the US tariffs was muted on Chinese social media, where it failed to break into the top 100 trending topics on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.