China Appeals to Washington to Give Up Tariff Plan

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng gestures during a press conference at the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, Thursday. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s Commerce Ministry urged Washington on Thursday to discard planned tariffs it warned might set off a chain reaction that could disrupt global trade and said Beijing will “fight to the end.”

A Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, gave no details of how Beijing might respond to President Donald Trump’s proposed tariff hike on $60 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy. But Gao repeated warnings China will “take all appropriate measures” to defend its commercial interests.

Trump’s plans are a “flagrant violation” of World Trade Organization rules and “may trigger a chain reaction” of import controls by other governments and harm global economic growth, Gao said at a regular news briefing. He used unusually forceful language even for the latest acrimonious dispute.

“We hope the United States can rein in its horse before the edge of the cliff, or else we will fight to the end,” said Gao.

Gao insisted Beijing has abided by WTO rules, despite complaints by Washington, the European Union and foreign business groups that Chinese regulators hinder market access and shield local companies from competition.

The possible tariffs approved last week by Trump are in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

On Friday, Beijing responded to an earlier U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum imports by releasing a $3 billion list of American goods including pork and steel pipes that might be targeted for retaliation.

Gao repeated earlier Chinese statements that Beijing is open to negotiating a settlement, though he did not confirm a news report that talks already have started. The Wall Street Journal said U.S. officials have submitted a list of market-opening requests covering autos, finance and semiconductors.

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