Beijing Is Not Backing Down As Trump’s Latest Moves Reheat US-China Trade Spat

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Beijing warned the Trump administration Wednesday it is ready to fight should the U.S. decide to restart the trade war.

“We want to reiterate that we don’t want a trade war, but we aren’t afraid of fighting one,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing Wednesday. “If the U.S. insists on acting arbitrarily and recklessly, China will take firm and powerful measures to safeguard its own legitimate rights.”

The response from the foreign ministry follows a decision by the White House Tuesday to follow through on earlier plans to impose billions of dollars in trade penalties on China. (RELATED: Trump To Hit China With Billions Of Dollars In Trade Penalties, White House Reveals)

To defend American interests against “harmful acts, policies and practices that China uses to acquire our intellectual property,” the U.S. is hitting China with targeted investment restrictions, enhancing export control regimes, slapping tariffs on Chinese tech products and challenging China in the World Trade Organization, the administration revealed.

In particular, the U.S. intends to impose a 25-percent tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods.

“We are very surprised by the White House statement,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday, adding that the latest moves go “against the consensus we reached with our U.S. counterparts” during trade negotiations in Washington, D.C. recently.

“No matter what measures the U.S. will take, China is confident and capable of defending our national interests,” the commerce ministry explained.

The recent spike in bilateral trade tensions comes after a period of reduced hostility following a string of productive meetings between American and Chinese officials.

“We are putting the trade war on hold. Right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News on May 20 after the president announced that China and the U.S. had reached an agreement on trade. (RELATED: Treasury’s Mnuchin Says US Putting Trade War With China ‘On Hold’)

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro called Mnuchin’s statement an “unfortunate sound bite” Wednesday on NPR, further commenting, “What we’re having with China is a trade dispute — plain and simple.”

While many observers refer to the ongoing spat as a trade war, the administration asserts the U.S. actually lost the trade war a long time ago through numerous bad trade deals and China’s entry into the WTO.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was expected to visit China Saturday for trade talks, but those negotiations might be scrapped if the advanced team fails to reach an agreement with its counterparts in Beijing.

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