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China calls US an 'economic bully' as Trump imposes $200bn of trade tariffs

Alan Tovey
Chinese and US flags

China has accused the US of “economic bullying” as the $200bn of trade tariffs proposed by the Trump regime came into effect today.

The Beijing government issued a hard-hitting attack on President Donald Trump in a white paper it said “clarified the facts about China-US economic and trade relations”.

The latest tariffs on 5,745 Chinese imports, ranging from bicycles to furniture, are at a rate of 10pc until the end of the year, then rise to 25pc.

China is responding with levies of 5pc to 10pc on $110bn worth of 5,207 American goods, from honey to industrial chemicals.

Circulated by state-backed news agency Xinhua, the white paper described the relationship between China and the US as “of great significance for the two countries, as well as for the stability and development of the world economy”.

However, it laid into the Trump administration’s “America First” policy, saying it “abandoned the fundamental norms of mutual respect and equal consultation that guide international relations”.

Beijing said President Trump's policies have undone 40 years of work to boost trade ties Credit: Reuters

According to Beijing, President Trump’s regime has “brazenly preached unilateralism, protectionism and economic hegemony, making false accusations against many countries and regions, particularly China, intimidating other countries through economic measures such as imposing tariffs, and attempting to impose its own interests on China through extreme pressure”.

So far the US has imposed more than $250bn of trade tariffs on products from China - about half of the country’s exports to America.

The tariffs have undone what Beijing described as “tremendous efforts” over 40 years to “move forward economic and trade relations” between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies.

US and Chinese premiers Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at a press conference in CHina in 2017 Credit: Bloomberg

According to Beijing, the result is that “trade and economic friction between the two sides has escalated quickly over a short period of time, causing serious damage to the economic and trade relations… posing a grave threat to the multilateral trading system and the principle of free trade".

America has defended its policy, saying it is responding to Chinese state backing if its industries, which goes against international trade rules.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the trade war between the two countries has the potential to cause "significant economic costs", including slower growth.

Fitch Ratings has cut its growth estimates for China and the world for 2019.

"The trade war is now a reality,” said Fitch economist Brian Coulton. “Protectionist US trade policies have now reached the point where they are materially affecting what remains a strong global growth outlook.”

Worries that the row could escalate further - President Trump has spoken of “Phase Three” of tariffs - increased after Chinese diplomats pulled out of talks with the US about international trade just an hour after the latest tariffs came into effect. 

Despite the rhetoric, the President Trump said he was still open to talks with his opposite number President Xi Jinping, to try to ease tensions.

“President Trump has an excellent relationship with President Xi and our teams have been in frequent communication since President Trump took office,” the White House said in a statement.  “We remain open to continuing discussions with China, but China must meaningfully engage on the unfair trading practices.”