China slammed the U.S. threat to expand tariff hikes to imports including apples, fish sticks and French doors as a “totally unacceptable” escalation of their trade battle and vowed Wednesday to protect its “core interests.”
The Chinese government gave no details but the Commerce Ministry earlier threatened “comprehensive measures.” That prompted fears Beijing might go beyond matching U.S. import tax increases by harassing American companies in China.
The spiraling conflict over Chinese technology policy threatens to chill global economic growth. It stems from Washington’s belief that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology and worries that plans for state-led development of Chinese champions in robots and other fields might erode American industrial leadership.
The U.S. Trade Representative announced Tuesday a possible second round of tariff hikes targeting a $200 billion list of Chinese goods ranging from burglar alarms to mackerel. That came four days after Washington added 25 percent duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods and Beijing responded by increasing its own taxes on the same amount of American imports.
“It is totally unacceptable for American side to publish a tariff list in a way that is accelerating and escalating,” said a Commerce Ministry statement.
Beijing’s lopsided trade balance with the United States means it will quickly run out of imports for retaliation. China imported U.S. goods worth $130 billion last year and Friday’s tariff hike hit $34 billion of that, with another $16 billion cited for a possible increase.