President Donald Trump added fuel to a burgeoning trade conflict with China on Monday, as he threatened to slap new tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
China swiftly rebuked the threat and said it would take strong countermeasures to safeguard itself if new tariffs are indeed announced.
“The United States has initiated a trade war that violates market laws and is not in accordance with current global development trends,” the country’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement, according to CNBC.
Trump announced on Monday evening that he’d asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to draw up a list of $200 billion in Chinese imports that the U.S. could impose a 10 percent tariff on. The president said the move was a retaliatory response to China’s decision to raise tariffs on $50 billion of American goods, including cars, tobacco, petrochemicals and agricultural products.
China’s tariffs had themselves been a reaction to Trump’s announcement on Friday that the U.S. would be imposing a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of Chinese goods. “These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs,” the president said at the time.
On Monday, Trump said China’s tit-for-tat tariff response illustrated the country’s unwillingness to change its “unfair practices.”
“Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong,” he said in a statement announcing the possibility of additional tariffs.
If China “refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced,” the U.S. will pursue tariffs on an additional $200 billion of imports, Trump added.
Lighthizer said his office was preparing the list of imports, which will be subject to a public comment period and a public hearing, reported Reuters. It’s unclear when the list will be made public.
China’s Commerce Ministry lambasted Trump’s new tariff threat, saying it violated prior negotiations between the two countries.
“This practice of extreme pressure and blackmail deviates from the consensus reached by both parties on many occasions and is disappointing for the international community,” the ministry said, adding that it would respond firmly with “comprehensive measures combining quantity and quality” if the U.S. ends up pursuing more tariffs.