China escalated its war of words with the US over trade tariffs with the country’s commerce ministry warning that the interests of US workers and farmers would be hurt by what it described as Washington's desire to brandish "big sticks."
Ministry spokesman Gao Feng accused Washington of trying to “blackmail” Beijing by threatening to impose further tariffs on Chinese products.
He said Beijing was not hopeful about negotiations with the US because the US government – as he put it – was being “unpredictable” and “challenging”.
"It is deeply regrettable that the US has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war," Gao said. "The US is accustomed to holding 'big sticks' for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China."
He was responding to US President Donald Trump’s latest threat to hit $200 billion worth of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if Beijing retaliates against his previous announcement to target $50 billion in imports, and to target another $200 billion worth of Chinese products if Beijing chooses to fight back. If it makes good on its threats, US actions could affect as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese imports, Reuters added.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media called on Beijing not to be distracted by US protectionism, which they censured as a self-defeating “symptom of paranoid delusions.”
In a Friday editorial, the official China Daily emphasized that the US had failed to comprehend that its trade with China actually supported millions of jobs for American workers and that the Washington’s commerce policy was self-defeating.
It also cited research by the New York-based Rhodium Group as saying that Chinese investment in the US had dropped 92 percent in the first five months of this year to only $1.8 billion, its lowest level in seven years.
“The woes the administration is inflicting on Chinese companies do not simply translate into boons for US enterprises and the US economy,” added the editorial titled, “Protectionism symptom of paranoid delusions.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, Gao emphasized that the US had abused its import tariffs system and had started trade wars in various parts of the world to “seriously undermine the world trade order and harm the interests of its trading partners”.
He said that Washington’s allegation of China stealing its technology was “a serious distortion of history and reality,” adding that the US was picking China as a “scapegoat” for its own problems, Reuters reported.
Gao also said that China would take forceful “qualitative and quantitative” countermeasures against US tariff policy, but did not specify what those countermeasures would be.
Nevertheless, Reuters highlighted speculations that Beijing could move to restrict US investment in China and tell Chinese companies not to do business with American firms.
China has announced that it would impose additional tariffs on 659 US goods, with duties on 545 of them to kick in on July 6, after Trump said Washington will impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products.
Beijing's planned tariffs would add to duties it had already slapped on 128 US goods, such as pork, fruits, and nuts, in reaction to Trump's earlier move to impose taxes on Chinese steel and aluminum, Reuters added.
The US goods affected on July 6 also include pork and fruit, as well as soybeans, autos and a wide array of marine products.