Beijing: China on Friday accused the US of starting “the biggest trade war in economic history” as American tariffs took effect on Chinese goods worth $34 billion.
“China is forced to strike back to safeguard core national interests and the interests of its people,” the country’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement after the tariffs kicked in.
President Donald Trump’s administration’s 25 per cent tariffs are targeting Chinese products such as industrial machinery, medical devices and auto parts.
The Commerce Ministry statement did not however, provide details on its retaliation.
Beijing said previously it would fire back against an equal value of US exports, including SUVs, meat and seafood.
Even before Friday, the trade dispute between the world’s top two economies had rattled markets and prompted warnings from companies of damage to their bottom lines and higher prices for consumers.
The US is also set to impose 25 per cent tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese exports later in the year and China has vowed to retaliate against US goods worth a similar amount.
But Trump has said his administration will respond to retaliation from Beijing with much bigger waves of tariffs, raising the prospect of worsening tit-for-tat reprisals, CNN reported.
On Thursday, he suggested the possibility of tariffs on almost $500 billion more of Chinese goods.
“Thirty-four, and then you have another 16 in two weeks and then, as you know, we have 200 billion in abeyance and then after the 200 billion we have 300 billion in abeyance. OK?” Trump told reporters aboard the Air Force One.
“So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300.”
Trump and his advisers argue the tariffs are necessary to pressure China into abandoning unfair practices such as stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to hand over valuable technology.
Beijing denies it’s in the wrong and says it’s ready to fight a trade war until the end.
The clash with China comes as the Trump administration is also fighting over trade with American allies such as Canada and the European Union.
American tariffs on steel and aluminium imports have provoked retaliatory measures against billions of dollars of American exports.