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China Says It Won't Back Down in a Trade War Started by Trump

Bryce Baschuk

China fired back at President Donald Trump’s latest tariff barrage, saying it won’t back down in the trade war that was started unilaterally by the U.S.

China “never yields to threat or blackmail,” Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said in written comments to Bloomberg on Wednesday. “The U.S. side ignored the progress, adopted unilateral and protectionist measures, and started the trade war.”

Wang’s comments come just hours after the U.S. Trade Representative launched a process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to respond to “China’s harmful industrial policies” with 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. This marks a dramatic escalation in global tensions, causing stocks to slump and with S&P 500 futures headed for their biggest drop in two weeks.

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The tariffs, which could go into effect as soon as this fall, are in addition to the 25 percent duties Trump imposed on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods July 6.

Talks Stalled

Wang also accused Trump administration officials of not negotiating in good faith with the Chinese government and unilaterally escalating the dispute.

“China made great efforts and demonstrated utmost sincerity to stabilize trade relations with the U.S.,” Wang said. “Regrettably, the U.S. side did not honor its words, chopping and changing all the time.”

There have been no confirmed high-level talks between the world’s two largest economies since an early June visit to Beijing by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that achieved no breakthroughs.

“The U.S. behavior represents a typical ‘trade bully,’ posing a grave threat to the global value chain,” Wang said. “It will hamper global economic recovery, hurting many businesses and ordinary people around the world. It will harm the interest of companies, employees and consumers in both China and the U.S.”

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‘Completely Groundless’

Wang said China will not hesitate to retaliate against the Trump administration’s “completely groundless” 301 tariffs and defended Beijing’s response to the last round of American duties, saying its measures are “fully based on solid domestic law and international rules.”

World Trade Organization officials are concerned that if the U.S. and China engage in a tit-for-tat trade war using unilateral domestic laws rather than the WTO’s established dispute settlement processes they will undermine the Geneva-based organization’s ability to arbitrate global trade conflicts.

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“It’s time for anyone who cares about the health of the economy to sit up and take notice,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a July 5 tweet.

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