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15 Jun, 2018 09:44

Tit-for-tat: Beijing vows 'immediate' response as Trump backs $50bn in tariffs on Chinese goods

Tit-for-tat: Beijing vows 'immediate' response as Trump backs $50bn in tariffs on Chinese goods

Washington has announced import levies targeting some $50 billion of goods from China after President Donald Trump gave the green light on Friday. China has warned it will retaliate.

The President signed off on the step after discussing the tariff list with senior White House officials, national-security officials and senior representatives of the Treasury and Commerce Department, the Wall Street Journal reports citing people familiar with the issue.

Though it’s not clear yet when the tariffs will come into force, Chinese authorities have warned of a fast response to protect China if Washington hurts its interests.

“If the United States takes unilateral protectionist measures and harms China's interests, we will respond immediately and take necessary measures to firmly safeguard our legitimate rights,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a news briefing.

The US tariffs package reportedly includes 800 product categories, down from a previously approved 1,300, an administration official and an industry source familiar with the list told Reuters. Chinese goods are set to be subject to 25 percent export duties.

Beijing had previously pledged to respond to Washington's tariffs with retaliatory levies on $50 billion of goods form the US, including cars, planes and soybeans. Shortly after Chinese authorities warned of retaliation, the White House threatened tariffs on a further $100 billion of Chinese exports.

Trump has repeatedly accused Beijing of putting pressure on US firms to transfer technology to Chinese competitors. “We have a tremendous intellectual property theft problem. It's going to make us a much stronger, much richer nation,” the US president said earlier this year.

Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies have been steadily escalating over recent months as Trump began tariff fights with long-standing US allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union over steel and aluminum production.

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