Beijing announced it would retaliate against new US tariffs on $50bn in Chinese imports that will go into effect within days, taking the world’s two largest economies to the brink of a full-scale trade war. The new American import duties, aimed at forcing Beijing to stop what the White House claims has been systematic theft of US intellectual property, will apply to products ranging from cars and helicopters to bulldozers and industrial tools and machinery.
China’s commerce ministry responded on Friday that it would “immediately introduce countermeasures of the same scale and strength”, though it did not immediately provide a full list of the tariffs or details about when they would be imposed. “All the economic and trade-related achievements previously reached by the two sides will be rendered invalid,” the ministry said, referring to the results of earlier rounds of China-US trade talks.
The White House decision to unleash the new tariffs followed more than a year of sabre-rattling that many in the Trump administration had hoped would lead to a negotiated settlement to reduce Chinese trade barriers before any duties were actually imposed. Talks between Beijing and Washington have ground to a halt, however. US President Donald Trump insisted he was still open to negotiation. “I have a wonderful relationship with President Xi. We’ll all work it out. He understands it’s unfair,” he told Fox News in an interview.