Beijing, the seat of power in China, on Friday vowed to fight “unilateral U.S. protectionism at any cost” after President Trump ordered officials to examine the situation and to impose an additional 100 billion dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods.
“On Sino-US trade, China has made its position very clear. We don’t want a trade war, but we are not afraid of such a war,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce told state-run news agency Xinhua.
The ministry also vowed to take “comprehensive countermeasures,” according to Xinhua, although it did not add further details.
The comments echo the fiery rhetoric in state and Communist Party-backed publications over the past week as the standoff with the U.S. escalates into a possible all-out trade war.
In a statement on Thursday, Trump said he had ordered the move “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” to U.S.
tariffs of 25 per cent on 50 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods he announced earlier this week.
“Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Trump added.
“I have instructed the U.S. Trade Representative to consider whether 100 billion dollars of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs.
“We are still prepared to have discussions in further support of our commitment to achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade and to protect the technology and intellectual property of American companies and American people.”
He also said he had ordered the secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests.”
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has stated that Trump was “right to ask for additional appropriate action to obtain the elimination of the unfair acts, policies, and practices identified in USTR’s report.”
He also said the tariffs, like those previously announced, would undergo a review period before going into effect, leaving the door open for talks.
Trump’s tariffs have been criticized by U.S. businesses and members of his own Republican party alike.
“The announcement that the administration may issue 100 billion dollars in additional tariffs on Chinese products is irresponsible and destabilising,” Dean Garfield, head of the Information Technology Industry Council, said.
The National Retail Federation accused the White House of “playing chicken with the economy.”
“This is what a trade war looks like, and what we have warned against from the start. We are on a dangerous downward spiral and American families will be on the losing end,” its president Matthew Shay said.