China vows retaliation on tariff hike

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FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers, including one labelled "China Shipping," are stacked at the Paul W. Conley Container Terminal in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said yesterday that “blackmail” wouldn’t work and that it would hit back if the United States takes further steps hindering trade, as the Trump administration considers slapping a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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The proposal would increase the potential tariff rate from 10 percent the administration had initially put forward on July 10 for that wave of duties in a bid to pressure Beijing into making trade concessions, a source familiar with the plan said on Tuesday.

The tariffs target thousands of Chinese imports, including food products, chemicals, steel and aluminium and consumer goods ranging from dog food, furniture and carpets to car tires, bicycles, and baseball gloves and beauty products.

While the duties would not be imposed until after a period of public comment, raising the proposed level to 25 percent would escalate the already bitter trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

The source said President Donald Trump’s administration could announce the tougher proposal as early as Wednesday in Washington. The plan to more than double the tariff rate was first reported by Bloomberg News.

China, which has accused the United States of bullying, again vowed to retaliate if Trump proceeds with the measures, warning that pressure tactics would fail.

“US pressure and blackmail won’t have an effect. If the United States takes further escalatory steps, China will inevitably take countermeasures and we will resolutely protect our legitimate rights,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing.

Investors fear an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing could hit global growth, and prominent US business groups, while weary of what they see as China’s mercantilist trade practices, have condemned Mr Trump’s aggressive tariffs.

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