White House moves forward with $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods

World Today

FILES-US-CHINA-TRADE-TARIFFS-DISPUTE(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 10, 2013, a staff member adjusts a USn flag before the opening session of the US and China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the US Department of State in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI)

China said it’s capable of defending its interests in the face of a surprise tariff announcement from the United States. Washington said it is moving forward with duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The move comes just days before trade talks scheduled in Beijing.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg has more.

Just a week ago, China’s Vice-Premier and top economic adviser Liu He was in Washington. His talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin were described as productive. So much so, the U.S. said any potential trade war between the world’s two largest economies was “on hold.”

Now, the Trump administration has apparently pivoted.

“To protect our national security, the United States will implement specific investment restrictions and enhanced export controls for Chinese persons and entities related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology,” a White House statement read in part. “The proposed investment restrictions and enhanced export controls will be announced by June 30, 2018, and they will be implemented shortly thereafter.”

This is in addition to a $50 billion tariffs package due to go into effect two weeks earlier, targeting “industrially significant technology, including those related to the ‘Made in China 2025’ program.”

China’s Ministry of Commerce said it was surprised by the statement.

“No matter what measures the U.S. will take, China is confident and capable of defending our national interests,” the ministry said in response. “We urge the U.S. to act according to our previous joint statement.”

Beijing has already drawn up a $50 billion dollar list of American products it intends to tax in response.

Tuesday’s unexpected turnaround by President Trump comes as U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross prepares to head to China for follow up talks this week.

In recent days, the Trump administration had moved to ease tension with China. The president indicated a deal over the future of Chinese telecom giants ZTE was within reach. That was despite fierce opposition from the U.S. Congress.

Haiyan Wang on White House threatening new tariffs on Chinese goods

To discuss more on the White House’s threats to levy new tariffs on Chinese goods, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Haiyan Wang, managing partner of the China India Institute.