Business World

Monday 20 January 2020

China ramps up war of words over Trump's US tariff threat

Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre), will deliver a speech to the Boao Forum for Asia today
Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre), will deliver a speech to the Boao Forum for Asia today

Kevin Yao

China stepped up its attacks on the Trump administration yesterday over billions of dollars worth of threatened tariffs, saying Washington is to blame for trade frictions and repeating it was impossible to negotiate under "current circumstances".

The comments come after US President Donald Trump on Sunday predicted China would take down its trade barriers, and expressed optimism that both sides could resolve the issue through talks.

Chinese state researchers and media talked down the likely impact of US trade measures on the world's second-largest economy and described the Trump administration's posturing on trade as the product of an "anxiety disorder".

"Under the current circumstances, both sides even more cannot have talks on these issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a regular news briefing.

"The United States with one hand wields the threat of sanctions, and at the same time says they are willing to talk. I'm not sure who the United States is putting on this act for," Mr Geng said.

The trade frictions were "entirely at the provocation of the United States", he added.

Beijing did not want to fight a trade war, but was not afraid of one, vice-commerce-minister Qian Keming said at the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern province of Hainan.

The focus this week will be on the forum, with President Xi Jinping and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde delivering speeches on Tuesday.

The US move last week to threaten China with tariffs on $50bn in Chinese goods was aimed at forcing Beijing to address what Washington says is deeply entrenched theft of US intellectual property and forced technology transfers.

Beijing claims that Washington is the aggressor and is spurring global protectionism, though China's trading partners have complained for years that it abuses World Trade Organisation rules and practices unfair industrial policies that lock foreign companies out of crucial sectors with the intent of creating domestic champions.

Repeated pledges by Beijing to open up sectors such as financial services have yielded little substantial progress, and Mr Trump has said that the US will no longer let China take advantage of it on trade.

On Monday morning in Washington Mr Trump tweeted that China puts 25pc tariffs on cars imported from the United States, while cars it imports from China face 2.5pc duties.

"Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE," Trump said in his post.

"China's reaction to Mr Trump's legitimate defence of the American homeland has been a Great Wall of denial - despite incontrovertible evidence of Beijing's illicit and protectionist behaviours," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in the 'Financial Times'.

"Nothing less than the US's economic future is at risk from China's assault on American technology and IP, and its mercantilist bid to capture emerging high-tech industries," he said.

Chinese officials deny such charges, and responded within hours of Mr Trump's announcement of tariffs with their own proposed commensurate duties. The move prompted Mr Trump to threaten tariffs on an additional $100bn in Chinese goods. (Reuters)    

Irish Independent

Also in Business