United States President Donald Trump has made good on his pledge to escalate the US-China trade war through a cycle of tit-for-tat exchanges, as America is set to hit back at Chinese retaliations after the US levied tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods over the weekend.
Due to Beijing matching the total amount of goods hit with tariffs, Trump said on Monday US time that China was “threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong”.
“This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage,” Trump said. “This is unacceptable.
“Therefore, today, I directed the United States Trade Representative to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10 percent.”
Trump added that if Beijing hit back at this latest manoeuvre, the US would find another $200 billion worth of goods to impose tariffs on.
In April, the Trump administration outlined around 1,300 products worth $50 billion that would be hit with proposed tariffs. On Friday, that list had been reduced to 1,102 items of the same value, with 818 items worth $34 billion set to be hit with tariffs from July, and the $16 billion remainder to undergo further review and a public hearing on July 24 before a final determination is made.
For its part, China said it “doesn’t want a trade war” but has to “fight back strongly”, a Commerce Ministry statement said on Saturday.
The president said on Monday that he has an “excellent relationship” with his Chinese counterpart, and that the two countries would continue to work together.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro last week said a deal to keep ZTE in business was a personal favour to the Chinese president, and said that if the company fell afoul of the US one more time, it would be shut down.
Reuters reported on Monday evening that the US Senate passed a defence spending bill that contained clauses to kill Trump’s ZTE deal.
The trade war has heated up, with Washington promising further tariffs if China retaliates, which it duly has.
As the party in power when Huawei was banned from being involved in Australia’s NBN, Shadow Minister for Defence Richard Marles has given a thumbs up to talk of the Chinese telecommunications giant being banned from 5G deployments.
Around AU$200 million from Australia’s foreign aid budget is being used to prevent Chinese telco equipment giant Huawei from building a subsea cable to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The deal with ZTE was a ‘personal favour’ to the Chinese president, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has said, and it boosted ‘goodwill’ for the North Korea summit.
The tariffs could affect $50-$60 billion worth of goods and increase trade tensions.