China's commerce ministry on Thursday accused the United States of being “capricious” over bilateral trade issues, and warned that the interests of US workers and farmers ultimately will be hurt by Washington's penchant for brandishing “big sticks”.
Previous trade negotiations with the United States were constructive, but Beijing has had to respond in a strong manner due to the US tariff threats, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.
President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if Beijing retaliates against his previous announcement to target $50 billion in imports. The United States has alleged that China is stealing US intellectual property, a charge denied by Beijing.
Washington's accusations of forced tech transfers are a distortion of reality, and China is fully prepared to respond with “quantitative” and “qualitative” tools if the US releases a new list of tariffs, Gao told a regular briefing in Beijing.
China could hit back at US firms listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average if Trump keeps heightening tensions with Beijing over trade, state-controlled Chinese tabloid The Global Times said on Thursday.
The 30-stock Dow, which counts Boeing Co, Apple Inc and Nike Inc among its constituents, fell 0.17 percent on Wednesday and has declined 0.25 percent this year. By contrast, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has slumped 13.1 percent year-to-date.“It is deeply regrettable that the US has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war,” Gao said. “The US is accustomed to holding 'big sticks' for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who views China as a hostile economic and military power, said on Tuesday that Trump's actions are a necessary defense of the “crown jewels” in the US economy.
None of the US administration's efforts to negotiate with Beijing has yielded progress on changing China's “predatory” trade practices, Navarro said.
He maintained that China had more to lose from a trade war.
Financial markets are worried about an open trade conflict between the world's two biggest economies after three rounds of high-level talks since early May failed to reach a compromise on US complaints over Chinese practices and its record deficit with China.
Last year, the deficit was about $375 billion, as China imported $129.89 billion of US goods, while the United States purchased $505.47 billion of Chinese products, according to US data.
A Sino-US trade war could disrupt global supply chains for the tech and auto industries, sectors heavily reliant on outsourced components, and derail world growth.
“US unilateral protection measures will ultimately harm the interests of US companies, workers and farmers,” Gao told reporters.
British forecaster Oxford Economics, in a recent note, said it “will not be easy for the US to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that it can levy tariffs on without hurting US companies and/or consumers, given the strong involvement of US companies in a large share of China's exports to the US”
Gao said that China and the US are due to negotiate on issues around the manufacturing and service industries in the near future.
Chinese shares fell on Thursday on investor worries about the trade dispute, with the Shanghai index languishing at a two-year low and stocks of about 100 firms down by the daily limit of 10 percent.
“I suspect that the US indices will start to sniff out the specific losers from this trade war, and individual stocks will get hurt much more than the broad index as investors understand this isn't going to kill global growth,” Andrew Polk, co-founder of research firm Trivium China, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum. “But it will impact some companies disproportionately.”
China said it will impose additional tariffs on 659 US goods, with duties on 545 of them to kick in on July 6, after Trump said Washington will impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products.
Beijing's planned tariffs would add to duties it had already slapped on 128 US goods, such as pork, fruits and nuts, in reaction to Trump's earlier move to impose taxes on Chinese steel and aluminum.
The US goods affected on July 6 also include pork and fruit, as well as soybeans, autos and a wide array of marine products.