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China forced to fight back with reciprocal tariffs

Writer:   | Editor: Lily A  | From:  | Updated: 2018-06-19

China on Friday unveiled a list of products from the United States that will be subject to additional tariffs in response to the U.S. announcement to impose duties on Chinese imports.

Approved by the State Council, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has decided to impose additional duties of 25 percent on 659 U.S. products worth about US$50 billion.

Additional tariffs for 545 items worth about US$34 billion, including agriculture, vehicle and aquatic products, will be effective from July 6, according to a statement of the commission.

China’s countermeasure is responsive, passive and reciprocal.

The U.S. announcement of imposing additional tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods follows months of shuttle diplomacy between Washington and Beijing.

China has shown utmost sincerity in rounds of negotiations with plans to meaningfully increase purchases of U.S. goods and services, to meet demands of the Chinese people for higher living standards and to help the United States to boost employment.

The U.S. side also admitted meaningful progress and important consensus were made in the past rounds of talks, as the two sides vowed not to launch a trade war.

But consensus has soon proved to be short-lived after the U.S. side demonstrated flip-flops with an obvious intention to escalate the trade spat.

China does not want the trade war, but facing a capricious Washington, China has no choice but to fight back vigorously in defense of its national interests, the trend of globalization and the world’s multilateral trading system.

In fact, China has prepared for volatile Washington. In the wake of the latest round of talks in Beijing earlier this month, China issued a statement, stressing that the outcome of the talks should be based on the prerequisite that the two parties meet each other halfway and will not engage in a trade war.

All economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the U.S. side imposes any trade sanctions, including raising tariffs. Washington obviously has turned a deaf ear to this serious message from China.

When it comes to defending national interests, China means business.

China noticed that the U.S. side had threatened to impose additional tariffs should China take retaliatory measures. This logic of a typical bully won’t make China flinch. China is ready to take corresponding measures.

In this day and age, launching a trade war is outdated and backward, which begets popular antipathy. Earlier this year, the Trump administration had unilaterally imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, sparking strong opposition even from its major trading partners.

With its closest allies rejecting the protectionism, can the United States really afford to go it alone?

Reciprocal tariffs are always the last resort. But if Washington is unable to stop its capriciousness, which hurts the interests of people of both countries, reciprocal tariffs are the leverage China has no choice but to use.