China urges US to stop economic intimidation

China urges US to stop economic intimidation

BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
China urges US to stop economic intimidation

China on March 26 lashed out at U.S. “economic intimidation” following President Donald Trump’s announcement of new import tariffs, but said it was open to negotiations to resolve trade frictions.

The two countries have traded threats and heated rhetoric in recent days, ratcheting up fears that the world’s two biggest economies are heading towards a damaging trade war.

Trump said last week that the United States would impose new tariffs on some $60 billion of Chinese imports over the “theft” of intellectual property, rattling global financial markets.

Vice President Mike Pence boasted the measures mean that the “era of economic surrender is over."

Asked about the remarks, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing on March 26 that “it would have been more appropriate to say that it’s time to stop the U.S.’s economic intimidation and hegemony.”

China also called on World Trade Organization members on March 26 to unite to prevent the United States “wrecking” the WTO and urged them to oppose U.S. tariffs targeting China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.

Beijing’s envoy Zhang Xiangchen told delegates at the Geneva-based trade body that President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods under Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act broke WTO rules.

“The U.S. is setting a very bad precedent by bluntly breaching its commitment made to the world. WTO members should jointly prevent the resurrection of 301 investigations and lock this beast back into the cage of the WTO rules,” he said.

On March 23, China unveiled a list of $3 billion worth of U.S. goods, including pork, fruits and wine, that could be targeted with tariffs in retaliation for steel and aluminum tariffs -- if negotiations fail.

“We also have the confidence and the capacity to safeguard our legitimate and legal interests, whatever the circumstances,” Hua also said. 

“Now the ball is in the U.S. court.”            

While the two sides have traded barbs in public, U.S. and Chinese officials have begun behind-the-scenes negotiations to improve American access to the Asian country’s huge market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We keep saying that the Chinese side is willing to negotiate with the U.S. to properly manage divergences, on the basis of mutual respect and equal mutual benefits,” Hua said when asked about the report.

“Our door is always wide open to dialogue and consultation.”    

The Wall Street Journal said the discussions -- led by China’s economic “czar” Liu He, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer -- cover topics including manufacturing and financial services, citing anonymous sources close to the issue.

Mnuchin and Lighthizer sent Liu a letter last week spelling out requests including greater U.S. access to China’s financial sector, the reduction of Chinese tariffs on U.S. vehicles and for China to increase its U.S. semiconductor purchases.

Speaking on Fox News on March 25, the U.S. treasury secretary said “we’re working on a pathway to see if we can reach an agreement as to what fair trade is for them.”

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