China reiterates countermeasures against US tariffs

Beijing: China on Thursday said that it was prepared to defend its interests in the ongoing trade dispute with the US and reiterated its warning to retaliate if Washington went ahead with its plan to increase tariffs on Chinese products from 10 to 25 per cent.

Commerce Minister Gao Feng said in a press conference here that China had the “determination and capacity” to defend its interests but hoped that the US would make efforts to reach a compromise, reports Efe news.

He reiterated Beijing’s opposition to the hiked tariffs announced by US President Donald Trump on Sunday and warned that China “would not succumb to any pressure”.

The Minister’s comments come after a similar statement published by the ministry late Wednesday.

“China deeply regrets this (hike in tariffs), and will be forced to take necessary countermeasures if the US side puts the tariff measures into effect,” the statement said.

It added that an escalation in trade-related tensions would not benefit either side or the world.

On Tuesday, the Chinese government announced that despite the fresh round of tariffs announced by Trump, its delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He would travel to Washington and participate in the latest round of negotiations on Thursday and Friday.

Gao said on Thursday that Liu’s participation in the talks was gesture of “sincerity and “responsibility” on the part of China as an agreement required efforts from both sides.

Gao’s remark comes after Trump, at a rally on Wednesday, said the new tariffs were because China “broke the deal”.

“You see the tariffs we’re doing?” the President asked his supporters. “Because they broke the deal.”

“If we don’t make the deal, nothing wrong with taking in over 100 billion a year. We never did that before.”

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin headed a delegation to Beijing to take part in the last round of negotiations and said that the talks had been very productive.

It had seemed likely a final deal might be reached after the Chinese delegation headed by the vice premier visited Washington.

However, Trump’s Sunday announcement marred the negotiations and caused heavy falls in international markets.

Trump had warned towards the end of 2018 that the tariffs on Chinese products worth $200 billion would be increased to 25 per cent from the existing 10 per cent if no deal was reached by March 1.