China slams new tar­iff plan

US is­sues tar­get list of $200 bil­lion worth of goods

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Cong

China on Wed­nes­day harshly crit­i­cized the US for fur­ther es­ca­lat­ing trade fric­tions be­tween the two coun­tries by is­su­ing a list of Chi­nese goods worth $200 bil­lion that will be tar­geted for ad­di­tional tar­iffs, call­ing the US move “typ­i­cal bul­ly­ing” and vow­ing to re­tal­i­ate.

While Chi­nese of­fi­cials stopped short of an­nounc­ing spe­cific coun­ter­mea­sures, Chi­nese ex­perts noted on Wed­nes­day that China is pre­pared to fight the new US tar­iffs be­cause the US has tele­graphed such moves.

They said China could take “qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive” mea­sures against the US.

Harsh words, threat

“The US has is­sued a new tar­iffs list that is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able, and we firmly op­pose this,” the Chi­nese Min­istry of Com­merce (MOFCOM) said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day. “To safe­guard the coun­try’s and its peo­ple’s core in­ter­ests, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment will, as al­ways, take nec­es­sary coun- ter­mea­sures,” MOFCOM said.

On Tues­day, the US is­sued a list of Chi­nese im­ports cov­er­ing a wide range of prod­ucts--from tobacco to doors to toi­let paper-on which the US wants to slap a 10 per­cent tar­iff. This fol­lowed a 25 per­cent tar­iff on $34 bil­lion in Chi­nese goods on Fri­day,

which prompted an equal Chi­nese re­sponse. The new list added fire to an on­go­ing war be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

“US ac­tions are hurt­ing China and the world, and even it­self. Such an ir­ra­tional be­hav­ior will not be ac­cepted any­where,” the MOFCOM state­ment said.

At a reg­u­lar press brief­ing, Hua Chun­y­ing, a spokesper­son for the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry, said the US ac­tions are “typ­i­cal bul­ly­ing,” ad­ding that this is a war be­tween uni­lat­er­al­ism and mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism, trade pro­tec­tion­ism and free trade, might and rules.

Hua also said that China would take ac­tion against the US to pro­tect its in­ter­ests as well as the global mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem.

How­ever, the MOFCOM state­ment and Hua did not re­fer to any spe­cific mea­sures the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment plans to take.

“Of course, China will not tele­graph ac­tions to be taken un­til the US im­poses its an­nounced tar­iffs. But there is no doubt that China will re­tal­i­ate,” Li Yong, a se­nior re­search fel­low at the MOFCOM’s China As­so­ci­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade, told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day.

The US list has to go through a two-month pub­lic com­ment pe­riod be­fore tak­ing ef­fect.

Li said that if the US pushes through with the new tar­iffs, China could play many cards.

“If not, why men­tion qual­i­ta­tive, why men­tion quan­ti­ta­tive, why men­tion com­pre­hen­sive mea­sures?” he said, re­fer­ring to an ear­lier MOFCOM state­ment that said China was plan­ning to take com­pre­hen­sive mea­sures against the US.

‘War is at our doorsteps’

Ex­perts said that the MOFCOM’s ref­er­ence to “qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive” mea­sures was made on the as­sump­tion that the US would push through with its new tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods. China has also taken sev­eral ac­tions that some ex­perts said was China’s way of coun­ter­ing the US, in­clud­ing ex­pand­ing im­ports and mar­ket open­ness, which pro­vide China with al­ter­na­tives to US goods and in­vest­ment.

Given that China has a trade sur­plus of nearly $300 bil­lion with the US, China would even­tu­ally run out of US goods to tar­get. How­ever, China has many ways to hurt the US as much as the US hurts China, in­clud­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive mea­sures on cer­tain US deals and re­duc­ing China’s ex­po­sure to US debt, ex­perts said.

Li said that “it is mean­ing­less to dis­cuss what China would or would not do in ad­vance. When the time comes, ac­tions will be taken.”

How­ever, Chen Fengy­ing, an ex­pert at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said that it is time for Chi­nese of­fi­cials to take spe­cific ac­tions rather than “threats” against the US be­cause “the war is at our doorsteps.”

“The point is to avoid a trade war and dam­age to both sides. No mat­ter what the two coun­tries do or say at the mo­ment, it will lead to ne­go­ti­a­tions. It is just a mat­ter of who will get the up­per hand,” Chen said, ad­ding that by tak­ing the US head on, Chi­nese of­fi­cials could gain the up­per hand.

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