China Ratchets Up Rhetoric, Vowing Action Against U.S. Tariffs

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China Ratchets Up Rhetoric, Vowing Action Against U.S. Tariffs – WSJ

Beijing says it will take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect China’s rights and interests

BEIJING—China’s government criticized the U.S.’s planned punitive actions on Chinese exports and investment, warning that it will take “all necessary measures” to respond and decrying Washington’s approach to the countries’ trade disputes.

China’s commerce and foreign ministries separately registered Beijing’s displeasure Thursday ahead of the Trump administration’s planned announcement of tariffs and other measures later in the day.

“China absolutely won’t sit back and allow its legitimate rights and interests to be harmed and will take all necessary measures to protect” them, a Commerce Ministry statement said. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman criticized the White House’s rhetoric, particularly the labeling of Chinese trade practices as “economic aggression,” calling such remarks “irresponsible.”

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The high-volume rhetoric reflects rising tensions, despite officials on both sides calling for restraint.

The Trump administration has said the planned policies against China are punishment for decades of intellectual-property theft and pressure on U.S. businesses to hand over technology.

Beijing denies forcing foreign companies to transfer technology. It is readying retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports of soybeans, sorghum and live hogs, targeting products from Farm Belt states that supported President

Donald Trump,

according to people with knowledge of the policies. But Beijing’s response would be calibrated to minimize escalation, the people said.

“Upholding economic stability serves the interests of the two sides,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

Hua Chunying

told reporters at a routine media briefing.

Still, Ms. Hua denounced the logic and language the Trump administration was applying. She criticized Washington for blocking Chinese purchases of high-technology and took issue with calls by U.S. officials for “reciprocity” in access to each other’s markets.

“Everybody knows that when it comes to trade, absolute reciprocity is not possible,” Ms. Hua said. “The U.S. on the one hand requires China to buy its products. On the other hand, it refuses to allow China to buy what it wants to buy from the U.S. Is this fair?”

A World Trade Organization ruling on Wednesday further fueled tensions. In the ruling, the global trade body largely sided with China’s complaint against the U.S. for slapping tariffs on Chinese solar panels, kitchen shelves and other products.

The trade body said that the U.S., under Mr. Trump’s predecessor,

Barack Obama,

didn’t properly calculate the prices to prove Chinese goods were being exported at unfairly low prices, and that it failed to adequately prove the existence of government subsidy programs in some cases.

China’s Commerce Ministry trumpeted the ruling, calling the U.S. a repeat trade offender and portraying Beijing as a defender of the global trade order. The U.S. had “severely harmed the fairness and impartiality of the international trade environment,” the ministry said.

Among members of the Trump administration, the unfavorable WTO ruling is likely to strengthen convictions that the trade body can’t protect U.S. interests and that unilateral action is warranted. U.S. Trade Representative

Robert Lighthizer

told members of Congress on Wednesday that the WTO has proven “wholly inadequate” in dealing with China’s state-driven economy.

The WTO ruling rejected some of China’s arguments, agreeing with the U.S. that China’s government “meaningfully controls” some state-owned companies that Beijing argued operated independently.

Write to Eva Dou at eva.dou@wsj.com



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