China warns it ‘won't capitulate’ to US tariff pressure

This file picture taken on November 6, 2018 shows Chinese and US flags at a booth during the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) ...

This file picture taken on November 6, 2018 shows Chinese and US flags at a booth during the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. (Photo by AFP)
China has strongly rejected US allegations that Beijing has backtracked on all aspects of a bilateral trade deal, warning that it would not “capitulate to any pressure” as the two sides commenced make-or-break talks in Washington.

“The US has assigned a lot of labels, such as backtracking, going back on one's word, and so on. Lots of promises have been foisted on China,” said Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng Thursday.

His comments came a day after President Donald Trump accused China of reneging on the provisions of a draft trade accord the US considered settled and threatened to more than double punitive tariffs on the Asian country.

“They broke the deal. They can’t do that. So they’ll be paying,” Trump said at a rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, on Wednesday night.

He also warned that there was “nothing wrong with taking in 100 billion dollars a year” in duties on imports from China in the absence of a trade deal.

On Sunday, Trump said he would raise duties on 200 billion dollars of Chinese products from 10 to 25 percent beginning on Friday, reversing a decision he had made in February to retain them at 10 percent as the two sides made progress on trade talks.

His remarks prompted Beijing to threaten “necessary countermeasures” if Washington raised the tariffs, escalating the persisting trade war between the world’s two largest economies. “The Chinese side has kept its promises and this has never changed,” Gao said.

The spokesman did not specify what kind of measures China would adopt but warned that it “has already prepared for all possible situations.”

“China will not capitulate to any pressure, and we have the determination and ability to defend our own interests,” he said.

Earlier in the day, China’s top trade negotiator Vice Prime Minister Liu He arrived in Washington for a two-day visit to sit at a bargaining table under a tense atmosphere as the two sides have been locked in a year-long trade standoff.

Liu is in the United States at the invitation of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to resume talks, which could be a pivotal round of the five-month-long intense negotiations.

Washington expects Beijing to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries and implement structural changes in its practices concerning intellectual property and the transfer of US technology to Chinese firms.

The US has also been seeking changes to the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules so that China’s access to markets in the West could come under stricter control.

China and many of its trade partners have slammed the posture, saying any such reforms could only favor the US and lead to more protectionism in global trade.

While Trump portrays the tariffs as punishing China, experts believe American companies and consumers would be bearing the costs.

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