China appeals for U.S. calm after new tariff threat

White House escalates China trade dispute to secure early breakthrough: John Kemp

A final decision has not been made, and a number of Trump's threats toward China have been designed more to bring Chinese President Xi Jinping to the negotiating table than to fundamentally change USA economic policy, said the person, who insisted on anonymity to discuss White House deliberations.

Senior administration officials expressed frustration Wednesday that China has responded to USA tariffs with retaliation rather than capitulation.

The highest penalties on the new list would be imposed on honey, vegetables, mushrooms and chemicals, targeting farming and mining areas that supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

"Blackmail and pressurizing by the United States will never work for China and if they take measures to further escalate the situation we will surely take countermeasures to firmly uphold our legitimate rights and interests", said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.

American plans to escalate a trade dispute with China have unnerved global stock markets.

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.

In early July, the USA government imposed 25 percent tariffs on an initial 34 billion dollars of Chinese imports.

Geng said China's door to dialogue on the trade dispute is open, but that it had to be based on mutual respect and equality.

In 2017 the United States had a $376 billion trade deficit with China, which it is keen to reduce.

The administration has said the tariffs would remain in effect until China opens its markets to more competition and stops what the USA says are unfair practices.

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President Donald Trump asked the US Trade Representative to consider increasing the proposed tariffs to 25 percent from the planned 10 percent, USTR Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday.

China already has retaliated with tariffs, hitting USA farm products in particular.

China's Finance Ministry accused the Trump administration of damaging the global economy after the USA proposed increasing duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods in the second round of a dispute over technology. China immediately responded with its own tariffs on USA goods worth $34 billion.

"But we don't think such an approach will work", he said.

Mickey Kantor, who was USA trade representative under President Bill Clinton, warned that a trade war with China will take a toll on a US healthy economy that from April through June registered the fastest growth since 2014.

The list, unveiled on Jul 10, hits American consumers harder than previous rounds, with targeted goods ranging from Chinese tilapia fish and dog food to furniture, lighting products, printed circuit boards and building materials.

"American consumers and businesses are now feeling the pinch of increased costs", said Jose Castaneda, a spokesman for the council.

In its statement, however, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said China can achieve "high-quality" economic growth despite the toll exacted by tariffs: "China always holds on to the belief that bad things can be turned into good things". The government will seek public comment on the higher tariffs.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office initially had set a deadline for final public comments on the proposed 10 percent tariffs to be filed by August 30, with public hearings scheduled for August 20-23.

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