China ‘won’t just play defence as trade war with US escalates’

Article in Global Times warns that China could try to ‘increase the pain felt by the US’ as Donald Trump appears poised to impose new tariffs on US$200 billion of goods

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 12:32pm

China will not be content to only play defence in an escalating trade war with the United States, a Chinese tabloid warned, as President Donald Trump was expected to announce new tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods as early as Monday.

Beijing may also decline to participate in proposed trade talks with Washington later this month if the Trump administration goes ahead with the additional tariffs, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing Chinese officials.

The Journal report quoted one senior Chinese advisory official saying China would not negotiate “with a gun pointed to its head”.

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The United States and China have already levied duties on US$50 billion worth of each other’s goods in an intensifying row that has jolted global financial markets in the past few months.

Last week, the world’s two biggest economies appeared to be making progress after the US Treasury Department invited senior Chinese officials including vice-premier Liu He for more talks.

However, a senior administration official told Reuters over the weekend that Trump is likely to announce the new tariffs as early as Monday.

“It is nothing new for the US to try to escalate tensions so as to exploit more gains at the negotiating table,” the Global Times, which is published by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, wrote in an editorial on Monday.

“We are looking forward to a more beautiful counter-attack and will keep increasing the pain felt by the US,” the Chinese-language column said.

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Besides retaliating with tariffs, China could also restrict exports of goods, raw materials and components core to US manufacturing supply chains, former finance minister Lou Jiwei told a Beijing forum on Sunday, according to an attendee.

Lou is chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund.

One person, who attended the event and is familiar with the White House’s thinking, said such a move would likely attract sharp retaliation from Washington, which has studied its own limits on exporting key technologies to China.

“Lou Jiwei’s approach would feed the most hawkish sentiments in the US government,” the person said, declining to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

Trump has demanded that China cut its US$375 billion trade surplus with the United States, end policies aimed at acquiring US technologies and intellectual property and roll back hi-tech industrial subsidies.