China will respond if the United States takes any new steps on trade, the foreign ministry said on Monday, after President Donald Trump warned he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the US, Reuters reports.
On Friday, Trump threatened to impose duties on US$267 billion of goods over and above planned tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese products.
“If the US side obstinately clings to its course and takes any new tariff measures against China, then the Chinese side will inevitably take countermeasures to resolutely protect our legitimate rights,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing, when asked about Trump’s warning. He did not elaborate.
The US and China have activated additional tariffs on US$50 billion of each other’s goods since July, as trade friction between the world’s two biggest economies worsened, despite several rounds of negotiations.
Trump has criticized China’s record trade surplus with the US, and has demanded that Beijing cut it immediately.
Tension has also persisted over limits on US firms’ access to Chinese markets, intellectual property protection, technology transfers and investment.
In August, China unveiled a proposed list of retaliatory tariffs on US$60 billion of US goods ranging from liquefied natural gas to some types of aircraft, should Washington activate the tariffs on its US$200 billion list.
The tariffs, ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent, would apply to 5,207 products, and US actions will determine whether China adopts the additional duties, Beijing said at the time.
China has either imposed or proposed tariffs on US$110 billion of US goods, representing most of its American imports, though crude oil and large aircraft are still not targeted for penalties.
The US$200 billion of Chinese goods on the US list includes some consumer products such as cameras and recording devices, luggage, handbags, tires and vacuum cleaners, with additional tariffs ranging from 10 to 25 percent.
Spared until now, mobile telephones, the biggest US import from China, would be engulfed if Trump activates the US$267 billion tariff list.
Trump’s threatened tariffs cover a total of US$517 billion in Chinese goods, which would exceed last year’s goods imports of US$505 billion from China.
China’s official export data has been surprisingly resilient, with growth exceeding analysts’ expectations for five months in a row.
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