Accusing the United States of bullying after it threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods, Beijing said on Wednesday that it will “fight back” to safeguard its interests.
The commerce ministry said that it was “shocked” by the Trump administration’s proposal to impose 10 percent tariffs on an extra US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports, Reuters reports.
Describing the US move as “completely unacceptable”, the ministry said in a statement that it will lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
“China is shocked by US’ behavior. In order to safeguard the core interests of the country and the people, China will have to fight back as usual,” it said, raising the prospect of retaliatory measures.
The Chinese foreign ministry, in its own comments, said Washington’s threats were “typical bullying” and described the dispute as a “fight between unilateralism and multilateralism”.
US officials on Tuesday issued a list of thousands of Chinese goods to be hit with the new tariffs.
The top items by value were furniture at US$29 billion of imports in 2017, network routers worth US$23 billion last year and computer components to the value of US$20 billion, according to Reuters.
The list is subject to a two-month public comment period.
Among the potential ways Beijing could hit back are “qualitative measures,” a threat that US businesses in China fear could mean anything from stepped-up inspections to delays in investment approvals and even consumer boycotts, Reuters noted.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Beijing could be considering holding up licenses for US companies, delaying approvals of mergers involving American firms and stepping up border inspections of US goods.
China could also limit visits to the United States by Chinese tourists or shed some of its US Treasury holdings, Iris Pang, Greater China economist at ING in Hong Kong, wrote in a note.
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