WASHINGTON —China has no choice but to fight back against U.S. bullying on trade, the country’s Commerce Ministry said on Friday, after Washington’s tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports took effect.
The Commerce Ministry on Friday criticized Washington for “trade bullying,” but gave no immediate details of possible retaliation, following the tariff hike that took effect at noon Beijing time in a spiraling dispute over technology policy that companies worry could chill global economic growth.
The world’s two biggest economies have fired the opening shots in a trade war that could have wide-ranging consequences for consumers, workers, companies, investors and political leaders.
With the United States slapping a 25 percent tax on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports, China was set to hit back with taxes on an equal amount of U.S. products, including soybeans, lobsters, sport-utility vehicles and whiskey.
The United States accuses China of using predatory tactics in a push to supplant U.S. technological dominance. The tactics include forcing American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market, as well as outright cyber-theft. Trump’s tariffs are meant to pressure Beijing to reform its trade policies.
Though the first exchange of tariffs is unlikely to inflict much economic harm on either nation, the damage could soon escalate. President Donald Trump, who has boasted that winning a trade war will be easy, said Thursday that he’s prepared to impose tariffs on up to $550 billion in Chinese imports — a figure that exceeds the $506 billion in goods that China actually shipped to the United States last year.
Escalating tariffs would likely raise prices for consumers, inflate costs for companies that rely on imported parts, rattle financial markets, cause some layoffs and slow business investment as executives wait to see whether