China trade war heating up

Dwayne Harmon
July 11, 2018

BEIJING-China reacted angrily to the Trump administration's new tariff plans for $200 billion in Chinese goods, calling the move a "totally unacceptable" escalation and vowing to roll out unspecified countermeasures.

The official said the decision was not final and that the list of Chinese goods would not become final until after the public had a chance to comment. That prompted fears Beijing might go beyond matching U.S. import tax increases by harassing American companies in China.

Last week, Washington imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, and Beijing responded immediately with matching tariffs on the same amount of USA exports to China. Chinese tactics, the administration says, include outright cybertheft and forcing USA companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

The move has faced criticism from American officials and lawmakers. By expanding the list, the administration is beginning to hit products that U.S. households buy, including such things as electric lamps and fish sticks. "Cooperation is the only correct choice between China and the United States".

Investors fear an escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies could hit global growth. Imposing taxes on another $200 billion worth of products will raise the costs of every day goods for American families, farmers, ranchers, workers, and job creators.

Trump has been following through on pledges he made during his presidential campaign to get tough on China, which he accuses of unfair trade practices including theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfer that have led to a $375 billion US trade deficit with China.

Instead, its heavily regulated economy gives Beijing tools to disrupt operations for American automakers, restaurant chains and other companies that are looking to China to drive revenue growth.

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Companies are watching United States chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., which has waited for months for Chinese regulators to decide whether to allow its proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors.

The economic impact of the conflict already is spreading.

China's commerce ministry said Wednesday it was "shocked" and would complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), but did not immediately say how it would retaliate.

Members of Congress are increasingly questioning Trump's aggressive trade policies, warning that tariffs on imports raise prices for consumers and expose USA farmers and manufacturers to retaliation overseas.

"Tonight's announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach", Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said in a statement. Stock markets in Shanghai dipped 1.8%, and Hong Kong fell more than 1.4%.

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