President Trump further escalated his trade fight with China on Monday, saying his administration was prepared to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and potentially even more if Beijing continues to fight back.
Mr. Trump’s threat, in response to retaliatory measures by China, was the latest volley in a dizzying trade dispute that has pitted the world’s two largest economies against each other and resulted in a seemingly endless game of one-upsmanship. The president called it punishment for what he said was an attempt by Beijing to keep the United States “at a permanent and unfair disadvantage.”
“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong,” he added, calling China’s response “unacceptable.”
The president left little doubt that the United States would continue to hit back even harder if China counters, adding tariffs to another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. All told, the Trump administration is threatening to impose tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of goods, including an earlier round — a sum nearly as large as the total value of goods China sent the United States last year, which was $505.6 billion.
“The administration is essentially saying it is willing to bring a substantial amount of commercial activity in the Asia-Pacific to a screeching halt,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The tit for tat began on Friday, when Mr. Trump said Washington would move ahead with tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, including agricultural and industrial machinery. The action provoked an immediate response from Beijing, which said it would place its own tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods, including beef, poultry, tobacco and cars.
On Monday, Mr. Trump raised the ante even further, saying that he had directed Robert E. Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, to pursue another $200 billion worth of tariffs.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Ana Swanson, Keith Bradsher and Katie Rogers