United States 'firing at itself' with trade measures: China

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But China later said it would not be the first to fire, instead responding only when the U.S.'s duties kicked in.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said that the proposed USA tariffs would hit many American and foreign companies operating in China and disrupt their supplies of components and assembly work.

"If the United States starts imposing additional tariffs, it will actually be charging taxes on firms both in China and around the world, as well as American companies", MOC spokesperson Gao Feng said at a press conference. Chinese companies and investors girded for the worst, while economists cautioned any impact on the economy would be minimal. "A little fighting may be the only way the Trump administration clears its mind and allows everyone to sober up", the state-run Global Times said on Friday.

The official China Daily newspaper accused the Trump administration of "behaving like a gang of hoodlums".

Duties on $34bn of Chinese goods will take effect at 12:01 a.m.in Washington, the US Trade Representative's office confirmed in an email Thursday. The Shanghai Composite index fell 1.1 per cent, after reaching more than a two-year low this week, while USA indices are expected to follow suit when they open later today.

Li further added that he and workers at his factory are "not so worried" because they have a price advantage over competitors.

He warned that the U.S. tariffs will hurt a lot of foreign companies that export goods from China to the United States.

The US was already undermining the WTO's trade disputes process by stalling on the appointment of new judges, he said.

This will be affected by how high individual tariffs are, and also if they are expanded to other countries like Canada, Mexico and the European Union. "However, we can't rule out a full-blown, recession-inducing "trade war"," it said.

In particular, the United States "will impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology, including those related to the "Made in China 2025" program", the statement said.

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"You have another 16 [billion dollars] in two weeks, and then, as you know, we have $200 billion in abeyance and then after the $200 billion, we have $300 billion in abeyance. OK? So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300".

China's commerce ministry called the USA actions "a violation of world trade rules" and said that it had "initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history".

Trump's tariffs are the result of an investigation by the administration into the theft of USA intellectual property by Chinese firms and their government.

China's economy is no longer as dependent on exports.

But then wages rise, making exports more expensive, and the country gets stuck in what's known as the "middle income trap".

Adding to concerns this week was a leaked report suggesting Trump had asked his officials to look at pulling the United States out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) altogether.

While China has signalled a willingness to buy more American goods to balance out the deficit, it has refused to trade away what it views as an essential part of its economic future. If that were to persist, it could potentially disrupt imports of key products such as pork and soybeans.

China's commerce ministry called the United States actions "a violation of world trade rules" and said that it had "initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history".

Cheng Dawei, a professor of worldwide trade at Renmin University in Beijing says these industries are still in their early stages and need inputs from global supply chains.

The new tariffs will bring back a level of American protectionism that has not been seen since 1970 when the average charge stood at 6.5%.

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