China hits back at Trump trade move with tariffs on 106 US goods

Retaliation will hit cars, soybeans and orange juice as fears of trade war grow

 Containers  at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China.

Containers at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China.


China responded swiftly to the latest round of tariffs on Chinese products from Washington by placing a 25 per cent trade tariffs on a list of 106 US goods, including soybeans, cars, chemicals and orange juice.

The tit-for-tat actions mark the latest salvoes in what is rapidly developing into a full-blown trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

The customs tariff commission of China’s cabinet, the State Council, decided to impose additional tariff of 25 per cent on 106 items of products under 14 categories, the finance ministry said in a statement on its website.

The Chinese government estimated that the products targeted by the tariffs were worth around $50 billion (€41 billion) in 2017. Soybeans are the US biggest export to China.

China’s deputy finance minister Zhu Guangyao said China had never given in to external pressure but said a trade war would mean “lose-lose” for both sides.

“External pressure will instead promote China’s development and innovation,” Zhu told reporters at a briefing in Beijing.

The move was taken after US president Donald Trump announced a proposed list of products subject to additional tariffs, which covers Chinese exports worth $50 billion with a suggested tariff rate of 25 per cent.

The date of implementation will depend on when the US government impose the tariffs on Chinese products, the finance ministry said.

The US list contained around 1,300 Chinese products and included medical products, TVs and motorbikes.

The Chinese say the issue needs to be resolved through dialogue.

“Those who attempt to make China surrender through pressure or intimidation have never succeeded before, and will not succeed now,”

Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, told a regular news briefing.

At the root of the current spat are complaints by US companies that China pressures foreign companies to hand over technology in return for market access, that intellectual property (IP) theft is rampant and Beijing does not allow equal playing fields for foreign firms.

The US-China Business Council (USCBC) said Chinese technology transfer practices and protection of IP were two areas that need to be addressed and improved.

“The American business community wants to see solutions to these problems, not just sanctions,” USCBC president John Frisbie said in a statement.

“China needs to substantially improve market access and competitive conditions for American companies selling to and investing in China in certain sectors, but unilateral tariffs may do more harm than good and do little to address the problems in China’s IP and tech transfer policies,” Frisbie said.

Earlier, the nationalist tabloid Global Times said in an editorial that the US was trying to “strangle” Chinese high-tech development and contain China’s rise through a trade war.

“Washington is afraid of China’s rising competitiveness in the field of high technologies. However, it adopts a measure of isolationism instead of motivating the US to compete,” the paper said.

“China should make the US pay the same price, force the US to rethink the strength comparison between the two countries and reflect on how to get along with China in the future,” it said.