SINGAPORE: China’s foreign minister said on Saturday that his country’s threat to impose retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion of US goods in an escalating trade dispute was “fully justified.”
Beijing threatened on Friday to bring in the levies on products ranging from beef to condoms, after US President Donald Trump’s administration upped the ante in its plans for additional tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion.
Washington suggested the rate on the proposed extra tariffs could be increased from 10 to 25 percent.
China and the US have been embroiled for months in a trade conflict that has threatened to hurt consumers in both countries.
Washington claims that China’s export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies, as well as theft of US technological know-how.
Speaking on the sidelines of a security forum in Singapore, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China’s threat of retaliatory tariffs was “fully justified and necessary.”
“These are measures taken out of the consideration for upholding the interests of the Chinese people,” he said, speaking through a translator.
He said the move was also aimed at upholding the “global free trade regime.”
Wang also hit back at comments by top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who ridiculed China’s tariff threat as “weak” and said the world’s second-largest economy was in significant “trouble.”
“As to whether China’s economy is doing well or not, I think it is all too clear to the whole international community,” Wang said.
In early July, the US imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods, with another $16 billion to be targeted in coming weeks, sparking retaliatory measures from China. Days later, Washington unveiled a list of another $200 billion in Chinese goods.
But Trump raised the stakes this week with a threat to lift the tariff rate.
China has said that new duties will be applied only if Washington pulls the trigger on its new tariffs.