US may slap China with higher tariffs, Beijing vows to retaliate

US may slap China with higher tariffs, Beijing vows to retaliate
Seeking to adjust the US trade imbalance with China, Washington could more than double the pending tariffs on Chinese imports. Beijing has warned of an immediate mirror response.

The White House is considering increasing planned tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent, administration officials told reporters on a background conference call on Wednesday. The step reportedly comes as negotiations between officials from the US and China failed to ease current trade tensions.

President Donald Trump has directed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider the higher tariffs as part of ensuring that Washington has “the right tools in place in order to encourage China to change its actions,” officials said.

The public comment deadline for new tariff proposals has been extended to September 5.

In response, Chinese authorities have warned the US against “blackmailing and pressuring,” and vowed to hit back if its hawkish partner takes further steps to hinder mutual trade. 

“If the US takes measures to further escalate the situation, we will surely take countermeasures to uphold our legitimate rights and interests,” Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told journalists.

The official called for talks that will be based on “equality and respect as well as established rules and credibility” to resolve the disputes over trade.

In July, the Trump administration introduced 25-percent tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion. Beijing immediately imposed retaliatory levies in the same amount on US imports. A second round of tariffs on imports worth $16 billion could take effect this week.

Earlier, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer exacerbated the conflict by releasing a list of thousands of Chinese products worth $200 billion that could face additional 10-percent tariffs.

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