Beijing vows retaliation after US hikes tariffs on Chinese goods

Beijing has vowed to retaliate after US President Donald Trump’s latest tariff hike on Chinese goods came into effect – escalating a battle over China’s technology ambitions and other trade strains.

The Trump administration raised duties on 200 billion US dollars of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%.

China’s Commerce Ministry said would take “necessary countermeasures” but gave no details.

The increase went ahead after American and Chinese negotiators began more talks in Washington aimed at ending a dispute that has disrupted billions of dollars in trade and shaken global financial markets.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Jon Elswick/AP)
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Jon Elswick/AP)

American officials accuse Beijing of backtracking on commitments made in earlier rounds of negotiations.

The talks were due to resume on Friday after wrapping up with no word on progress.

“China deeply regrets that it will have to take necessary countermeasures,” said a Commerce Ministry statement.

Shares in Asia were mixed on Friday amid renewed investor jitters about the possible impact of the trade battle on global economic growth.

The latest increase extends 25% US duties to a total of 250 billion US dollars of Chinese imports.

President Trump said on Sunday he might extend penalties to all Chinese goods shipped to the United States.

Beijing retaliated for previous tariff hikes by raising duties on 110 billion US dollars of American imports.

But regulators are running out of US goods for penalties due to the lopsided trade balance.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu (Balce Ceneta/AP)
Chinese Vice Premier Liu (Balce Ceneta/AP)

Chinese officials have targeted operations of American companies in China by slowing customs clearance for their goods and stepping up regulatory scrutiny that can hamper operations.

The higher US import taxes do not apply to Chinese goods shipped before Friday.

By sea, shipments across the Pacific take about three weeks, which gives negotiators a few more days to reach a settlement before importers may have to pay the increased charges.

The negotiators met Thursday evening. Then, after briefing President Trump on the negotiations, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dined with the leader of the Chinese delegation, Vice Premier Liu He.

Mr Liu, speaking to Chinese state TV on his arrival in Washington, said he “came with sincerity”.

He appealed to Washington to avoid more tariff hikes, saying they are “not a solution” and would harm the world.

“We should not hurt innocent people,” Mr Liu told CCTV.

At the White House, President Trump said he received “a beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping and would “probably speak to him by phone”.

The two countries are sparring over US allegations that China steals technology and pressures American companies into handing over trade secrets, part of an aggressive campaign to turn Chinese companies into world leaders in robotics, electric cars and other advanced industries.

- Press Association

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