The Chinese Commerce Ministry announced on March 23 that it will impose tariffs on American agricultural and steel products in response to President Trump’s plans to impose a charge of $60 billion on steel and aluminium imports from China.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, China will first impose a 15 percent tariff on 120 types of imported products from the United States, ranging from fruits, nuts, and wine to ginseng and steel pipes. At the next stage, China will impose a 25 percent tariff on eight types of products, including pork and recycled aluminium.
“If China and the U.S. do not reach an agreement on trade issues, China will impose the first stage of [15 percent] tariffs on U.S. imports; China will further implement the second stage of [25 percent] tariffs after evaluating the impact of the U.S. tariffs on the China,” said the Ministry of Commerce.
These tariffs are a direct response to President Trump’s tariffs and penalties on imports from China, which had been announced a few hours earlier. According to a senior White House official, the Trump administration hopes that these tariffs will pressure China to open up its economy, particularly its financial services and agriculture markets, and counter China as a technology competitor.
In a press conference, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, said, “The U.S. move [to impose tariffs]is not in the interests of China, the U.S., or the global economy and creates a very bad precedent. In any situation, China will not remain silent when its interests are harmed, and we have made sufficient preparations to protect our interests. China does not wish to fight a trade war, but we are not afraid of it.”
The Foreign Ministry also stated that “China will fight to the end in any trade war.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington stated that the U.S. action harms the interests of U.S. consumers, firms, and financial markets and threatens the international economic and trade stability. Additionally, it urged the United States to “cease and desist, make cautious decisions, and avoid placing U.S.-China relations in danger.”
One point of contention in U.S.-China trade relations is China’s increasing competitiveness in the technology sector. Beijing’s Made in China 2025 plan aims to support and subsidize major firms in ten high-tech industries. This has worried technology firms elsewhere, especially in the United States, as China’s subsidies of its technology firms could create unfair competition in the global market.