China Economic Review

China reacts to US tariffs with anger and threats

The White House’s decision to press ahead with new tariffs sparked a range of responses from Chinese officials and media yesterday, reflecting both disappointment in what has been seen as “backtracking” and a willingness to retaliate if escalations continue.

According to Caixin, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on the US to “be faithful in keeping its word and meet China halfway in accordance with the spirit of the joint statement”, referring to the implicit deal to temporarily halt tariffs made two weeks ago. Hua added that Washington’s inconsistency “damages its [the US’s] national credibility.”

The Ministry of Commerce said that, whilst the Trump administration’s announcement was “surprising”, it was not unexpected, labeling the move as tactical. “Whatever measures the US will introduce, China is confident, capable and experienced in safeguarding the Chinese people’s interests and our national core interest,” said one unnamed ministry spokesman.

The official Xinhua News Agency took a firmer line, warning that such backtracking could guide Washington “into an even more embarrassed and passive situation in international affairs.” Communist Party news outlet The Global Times invoked rhetoric from several months ago by threatening an “epic trade war” if the US doesn’t change its stance on tariffs.