2018-04-04 04:31:03
China Strikes Back at the U.S. With Its Own Tariffs

SHANGHAI — China hit back at the United States on Wednesday with proposed tariffs on American soybeans, cars, chemicals and other goods, in a move likely to spark fears that the countries’ escalating confrontation could become an all-out trade war.

Moving with unusual speed, Chinese officials outlined plans to make it more costly to import 106 categories of American goods into China. The move came just hours after the Trump administration detailed its plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese-made steel, aircraft parts, televisions and other products.

China’s new tariffs will amount to 25 percent on the American products. While Beijing did not immediately specify the value of the American goods that would be affected, government officials have said it would be roughly equal to the tariffs the Trump administration detailed on Tuesday.

The American products come largely from Republican-dominated states, where lawmakers might be expected to have some influence with President Trump and could persuade him to back down from his latest trade demands.

Chinese retaliation for the Trump administration’s latest move had been widely expected. Beijing typically responds to overseas tariffs with similar ones of its own, and Chinese officials had promised a proportional response if the Trump administration went ahead this week with the next step toward broad tariffs on Chinese goods.

But in the past, China has tended to wait days and sometimes weeks before striking back.

The tit-for-tat tariffs are part of a wider clash looming over trade between the world’s two biggest economies. Stock markets around the world have taken a hit in recent weeks as Washington and Beijing have escalated their trade dispute.

Two separate rounds of tariffs are now playing out between the United States and China, one involving metals and the other involving advanced manufacturing technologies.

Citing a need to protect domestic suppliers for national security reasons, the United States on March 23 imposed tariffs on $20 billion a year worth of steel and aluminum imports from around the world, including almost $3 billion a year from China. Beijing retaliated on Monday by imposing tariffs on nearly $3 billion a year of American pork, wine, stainless steel pipes and other goods.

The dispute over advanced manufacturing technologies has played out in parallel, with the United States alleging that China has repeatedly violated American intellectual property and is now using government subsidies to build domestic companies into powerhouses in high-tech manufacturing industries. China denies the allegations.

The dueling tariffs are relatively modest in the context of a trade relationship valued at nearly $650 billion a year. Still, economists worry that the clash could escalate quickly if the two sides can’t find a way to resolve their differences, threatening a commercial relationship that is essential to the world economy.

Chinese experts said that a pivotal moment had arrived in Sino-American trade relations, with each side poised to impose heavy tariffs in the coming months on industries that are important to the other.

“A key time has come for the United States and China to form a new consensus that includes intellectual property and the opening up of markets,” said Song Guoyou, the deputy chief of the American Studies Center at Fudan University. “Otherwise, trade may fluctuate a lot.”