China will never surrender to external pressure, the government said on Monday, though stopped short of announcing how Beijing will hit back after Washington renewed its threat to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports in an escalating trade dispute.
The trade war between the world’s top two economies jumped up a gear on Friday, with the United States hiking tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods after President Donald Trump said Beijing “broke the deal” by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations.
Trump also ordered US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to begin imposing tariffs on all remaining imports from China, a move that would affect about an additional $300 billion worth of goods.
Beijing has vowed to respond to the latest US tariffs, but has announced no details yet.
“As for the details, please continue to pay attention. Copying a US expression – wait and see,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing.
“We have said many times that adding tariffs won’t resolve any problem. China will never surrender to external pressure. We have the confidence and the ability to protect our lawful and legitimate rights,” Geng added, responding to a question on Trump’s threat of putting duties on all Chinese imports.
State media also kept up a steady drum beat of strongly-worded commentary on Monday, reiterating that China’s door to talks was always open, but vowing to defend the country’s interests and dignity.
“At no time will China forfeit the country’s respect, and no one should expect China to swallow bitter fruit that harms its core interests,” China’s top newspaper, the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in a commentary.
State television said in a separate commentary that the effect on the Chinese economy from the US tariffs was “totally controllable”.
“It’s no big deal. China is bound to turn crisis to opportunity and use this to test its abilities, to make the country even stronger.”
Ahead of talks last week, China wanted to delete commitments from a draft agreement that Chinese laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers. That move dealt negotiations to resolve the trade dispute a major setback.
Trump has since defended the tariff hike and said he was in “absolutely no rush” to finalize a deal.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that there was a “strong possibility” Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan in late June.