BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China’s state media said on Saturday the government’s retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods showed rational restraint and they accused the United States of blackmail.
Shipping containers and cargo vessels are seen at the Dachan Bay Terminals in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Late on Friday, China’s finance ministry unveiled new sets of additional tariffs on 5,207 goods imported from the United States, with the extra levies ranging from five to 25 percent on a total value of goods less than half of that proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.
The response follows the Trump administration’s proposal of a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
“China’s countermeasures are rational,” the Global Times, a tabloid run by the official People’s Daily, said in a commentary.
“China will not rush to compete with U.S. numbers,” it said, echoing comments made by state television.
The United States and China implemented tariffs on $34 billion worth of each others’ goods in July. Washington is expected to soon implement tariffs on an additional $16 billion of Chinese goods, which China has already said it will match immediately.
“The White House’s extreme pressure and blackmail are already clear to the international community,” said a state television commentary.
“Such methods of extreme blackmail will not bear fruit against China.”
China has now either imposed or proposed tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods, representing the vast majority of China’s annual imports of American products. Last year, China imported about $130 billion in goods from the United States.
“The U.S. has repeatedly resorted to threatening and deceitful routines, trying to force China to compromise, both overestimating its own bargaining power and underestimating China’s determination and ability to defend its national dignity and the interests of its people,” said a commentary in the official Xinhua news agency.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, remained staunch on Washington’s push for fairer trading conditions with China.
“President Trump inherited an unfair trade regime where American workers and American companies were not treated reciprocally or fairly by the Chinese, and the efforts of the Trump administration are to right that, to correct that,” Pompeo said to reporters on the sidelines of a regional forum in Singapore.
Pompeo added that he had discussed trade issues with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi on Friday.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he met Pompeo in Singapore and that his message was clear.
“My objective was quite straightforward: I think I need to inform him that we are very concerned,” said Saifuddin.
Countries like Malaysia form an integral part of Chinese exporters’ supply chains, and analysts have warned a trade war could knock billions of dollars off their economic growth in coming years.
“China has taken a necessary and legitimate response, based on the interests of the Chinese people and to protect the rules-based international trade system under the WTO,” said Wang on the sidelines of the Singapore forum on Saturday.
In response to a question about a comment by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow that China’s latest measures are “weak”, Wang said: “Does he want China to take an even stronger response?”
Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing, David Brunnstrom, John Geddie and Christian Shepherd in SINGAPORE, Engen Tham in Shanghai; Writing by Engen Tham; Editing by Nick Macfie and Stephen Powell