China won't accept US trade 'blackmail'

Workers at a swimwear factory in Jinjiang, in China's eastern Fujian Province. Speaking on the sidelines of a regional forum in Singapore yesterday, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China's threat of retaliatory tariffs
Workers at a swimwear factory in Jinjiang, in China's eastern Fujian Province. Speaking on the sidelines of a regional forum in Singapore yesterday, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China's threat of retaliatory tariffs was "fully justified and necessary".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE.

BEIJING/SINGAPORE • China's state media has said the government's retaliatory tariffs on US$60 billion (S$82 billion) of US goods showed rational restraint and they accused the United States of blackmail.

Late on Friday, China's Finance Ministry unveiled new sets of additional tariffs on 5,207 goods imported from the US, with the extra levies ranging from five to 25 per cent on a total value of goods less than half of that proposed by US President Donald Trump's administration. The response follows the Trump administration's proposal of a 25 per cent tariff on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports as Washington tightened pressure for trade concessions from Beijing.

"China's counter-measures are rational," the Global Times, a tabloid run by the official People's Daily, said in a commentary. "China will not rush to compete with US numbers."

The US and China implemented tariffs on US$34 billion worth of each others' goods last month.

Washington is expected to soon implement tariffs on an additional US$16 billion of Chinese goods, which China has already said it will match immediately.

"The White House's extreme pressure and blackmail are already clear to the international community," said a state television commentary. "Such methods of extreme blackmail will not bear fruit against China."

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remained staunch on Washington's push for fairer trading conditions with China to reduce the US trade deficit of US$375 billion - according to US data - with China.

 
 

"President Trump inherited an unfair trade regime where American workers and American companies were not treated reciprocally or fairly by the Chinese, and the efforts of the Trump administration are to right that, to correct that," Mr Pompeo said to reporters on the sidelines of a regional forum in Singapore. He added he had discussed trade issues with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi last Friday.

Other top Asian diplomats at yesterday's forum, hosted by Asean, warned that protectionism placed the region's development in jeopardy. Speaking on the sidelines of the forum in Singapore yesterday, Mr Wang said China's threat of retaliatory tariffs was "fully justified and necessary". In response to a question about a comment by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow that China's latest measures are "weak", Mr Wang said: "Does he want China to take an even stronger response?"

A White House spokesman said that Washington remained open to further talks with Beijing.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 05, 2018, with the headline 'China won't accept US trade 'blackmail''. Print Edition | Subscribe