China warns of 'counterattack' as United States tariffs take effect

US China

A 25% tariff is now being applied to $US34 billion worth of Chinese goods entering the United States.

The United States is set to impose tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese imports from 0401 GMT on Friday (12:01pm Singapore time) and has warned it may ultimately target over US$500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount that the United States imported from China a year ago.

Asked on Thursday whether China would target US-funded businesses in China to counter U.S. restrictions on Chinese products, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said it was not part of Beijing's plan and, instead, China might compensate foreign businesses for losses from a trade war.

"Such tariffs are typical trade bullying, and this action threatens global supply chains and value chains, stalls the global economic recovery, triggers global market turmoil, and will hurt more innocent multinational companies, enterprises and consumers".

China's tariffs on hundreds of U.S. goods include top exports such as soybeans and cotton.

Some U.S. companies scrambled Friday to reach China before the tariff deadline. "That's impossible. China won't accept that, " he said, adding "what happens next depends on the United States". Tensions are escalating, raising the chances that the trade spat will morph into an outright trade war.

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The US Chamber of Commerce says some states will have billions of dollars worth of exports at risk. The products, all sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms, ranged from pet food to mixed nuts and whiskey.

As the world's most developed nation and the rule-maker of the current global governing system, there is "astounding absurdity" in the United States complaining that it's been bullied in trade, the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said in a Chinese-language commentary on Friday. Chinese shares slipped further from early deals and pulled Asian markets down, while the yuan currency also weakened.

An official at a company in Shanghai that handles customs clearance for importers said to Reuters that the port of Shanghai is said to have put on hold clearing some USA imports through customs.

Speaking hours after the tit-for-tat duties went into effect, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said no one would emerge a victor from a trade war.

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

Trump has railed against Beijing for intellectual property theft and barriers to entry for US businesses and a $375 billion USA trade deficit with China.

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After that, the hostilities could intensify: Trump said the United States is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports - and then $US300 billion more - if Beijing does not yield to U.S. demands and continues to retaliate.

"We're here because President Trump says China is stealing our intellectual property", said Cohen, "We plan on imposing tariffs equivalent to what we believe was the harm caused to us by reason of intellectual property theft".

China also has plans for a second round - but no start date - that would affect $16 billion of such USA goods as chemicals, coal, crude oil and medical devices.

The government-run English language China Daily newspaper said: "The Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China".

"Its unruliness looks set to have a profoundly damaging impact on the global economic landscape in the coming decades, unless countries stand together to oppose it". "But it is applying the brakes to a global economy that has less durable momentum than appears to be the case", Rob Carnell, chief economist at ING, said in a note.

The U.S. has imposed 25 per cent duties on $34 billion USA in Chinese products.

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China has threatened to respond with tariffs on hundreds of US goods, including top exports such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening USA farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 USA election, such as Texas and Iowa.

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