Trump vowed on Thursday to slap a 10-percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports come next month, taking to a whole new level the ongoing trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.
Zhang Jun, China’s new ambassador to the United Nations, denounced on Friday Trump’s move as “an irrational, irresponsible act” and urged Washington to “come back to the right track.”
The Chinese diplomat also signaled Beijing’s preparedness to take countermeasures.
“China’s position is very clear that if US wishes to talk, then we will talk, if they want to fight, then we will fight. We will never sacrifice our fundamental interests. We are not only fighting for China alone, we are also fighting for an open international economy, for free trade, for an open, non discriminatory, and reliable multilateral trading system,” Zhang said.
“We definitely will take whatever necessary countermeasures to protect our fundamental right, and we also urge the United States to come back to the right track in finding the right solution through the right way,” he added.
Possible retaliatory measures by China could include tariffs, a ban on the export of rare earths, and penalties against US companies in China, according to analysts.
The new US tariffs, which would hit a wide range of consumer goods from cell phones and laptop computers to toys and footwear, are set to go into effect as of September.
Earlier on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also said Beijing would not be blackmailed and was instead holding firm to its position in the protracted trade war with Washington.
"We won't accept any maximum pressure, intimidation or blackmail," Hua told a news briefing in the Chinese capital.
"On the major issues of principle we won't give an inch," she said, adding that China hoped the US would "give up its illusions" and return to negotiations based on mutual respect and equality.
Trump has also threatened to further raise tariffs if Chinese President Xi Jinping fails to move more quickly to strike a trade deal with Washington.
Trade talks between the US and China collapsed in May after US officials accused China of pulling back from earlier commitments. Washington sharply hiked tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and Beijing retaliated, escalating the trade dispute.
A new round of high-level economic and trade consultations was kicked off in the Chinese capital on Thursday.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer returned from Shanghai this week without reporting much progress. The sides both said they’d meet again in early September in Washington for the next round of negotiations.
Trump had previously threatened to impose 25-percent tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports, prompting warnings from Walmart and other major US retailers of a sharp spike in consumer prices.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly referred to China as the "enemy" who cost Americans jobs, spied on US businesses, and stole US technology.