China is threatening to fire back at the US in Trump’s new trade war

US President Donald Trump with China’s President Xi Jinping. Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images
  • China is threatening to retaliate to Trump’s proposed new tariffs.
  • It doesn’t want a trade war, a government official said, but will respond if it’s harmed economically.
  • The tariffs have prompted a wave of condemnation and threats of retaliation around the world, from the EU to Canada.

Trump is on the verge of starting a trade war – and China isn’t taking it lying down.

China’s National People’s Congress spokesperson Zhang Yesui has threatened to retaliate to the US president’s proposed new tariffs on steel and aluminium, according to reports by the BBC, Voice of America, and elsewhere.

China doesn’t want a trade war, the politician said – but it will respond in kind if Trump’s tariffs harm it economically.

Yesui said: “China does not want a trade war with the Untied States, but we will absolutely not sit idly by and watch as China’s interests are damaged.

“If policies are made on the basis of mistaken judgments or assumptions, it will damage bilateral relations and bring about consequences that neither country wants to see.”

The US president announced last week that he plans to introduce 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminium imports. His remarks sparked immediate upheaval in US markets, and a chorus of condemnation around the world from countries concerned about the economic impact of a trade war.

The European Union has said it plans to apply 25% tariffs on $US3.5 billion of US imports to the continent in response to “rebalance” trade. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said last Thursday that Trump’s proposed tariffs are “a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification. Protectionism cannot be the answer to our common problem in the steel sector.”

Canada has also warned of countermeasures, with foreign minister Chrystia Freeland saying: “It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States … Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminium products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers.”

On Friday, Trump defended the proposed tariffs, arguing that in certain circumstances, “trade wars are good.”

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he said. “Example, when we are down $US100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”