China warned the U.S. against “blackmailing and pressuring” it over trade as the Trump administration mulls trying to force officials back to the negotiating table through threats of even higher tariffs.
President Donald Trump’s officials are considering more than doubling planned tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, people familiar with the deliberations said. The U.S. had threatened an additional $200 billion with levies of 10 percent, a level the administration may raise to 25 percent in a Federal Register notice in coming days, one of the people said.
At the same time, representatives of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are having private conversations as they look for ways to reengage in negotiations, according to people who spoke about the deliberations on condition of anonymity.
Holding an open door to talks while threatening worse consequences represents yet another increase in tension in the months-long standoff between the world’s two largest economies over commerce. While the conflict nominally centers around the U.S.’s $375 billion annual goods trade deficit with China, it has morphed into a chapter in the nations’ broader strategic rivalry.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it will fight back should the U.S. further increase tariffs. “If the U.S. takes measures to further escalate the situation, we will surely take countermeasures to uphold our legitimate rights and interests,” spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press conference on Wednesday.
He said China has always believed that the disputes should be resolved through talks and communications, but the dialogue should be based on “equality and respect as well as established rules and credibility.”
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