The United States hiked tariffs on Chinese imports on Friday and Beijing said it would be forced to counterattack in a dispute between the world’s two biggest economies that President Donald Trump says he is prepared to escalate.
Washington increased tariffs at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, a first step in what could become an accelerating series of tariffs.
China’s Commerce Ministry said it would be “forced to make a necessary counterattack.” It gave no immediate details, but Beijing earlier released a target list of American goods for retaliation including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey.
Trump discussed the trade war Thursday with journalists who flew with him to Montana for a campaign rally. The president said US tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese goods are set to take effect in two weeks.
Hostilities could intensify
Trump said the US is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports — and then $300 billion more — if Beijing does not yield to US demands and continues to retaliate.
That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially $550 billion — more than the $506 billion in goods that China shipped to the United States last year.
The Trump administration contends China has deployed predatory tactics in a push to overtake US technological dominance. These tactics include cyber-theft and requiring American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to China’s market.
The official newspaper China Daily accused the Trump administration of “behaving like a gang of hoodlums” who could do damage to the global economy unless other countries stop them.
“There should be no doubting Beijing’s resolve,” the newspaper said.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China appealed to both sides to negotiate a settlement.
“There are no winners in a trade war,” said the chamber’s chairman, William Zarit, in a statement. It said American companies want fairer treatment but will be hurt by U.-Chinese tensions.
“We urge the two governments to come back to the negotiation table,” said Zarit.