China trade tensions escalate as Trump approves $50bn of tariffs

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President Donald Trump moved closer to an all-out trade war with China on Friday by announcing new 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of technology imports, dealing a blow to Chinese industries and prompting retaliation against USA products.

"These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs", President Trump said in a statement.

That mirrored the Trump administration's announcement Friday of a tariff hike on $34 billion of Chinese goods, also due to take effect July 6, and plans to consider widening it to an additional $16 billion of other products.

Other cars potentially subject to USA tariff include Volvo S60 sedans, which the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker started importing to the U.S.in 2015. Chinese officials say they will slap duties on 545 US products on July 6, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement also caps months of sometimes fraught shuttle diplomacy in which Chinese offers to purchase more American goods failed to assuage Trump's grievances over the soaring trade imbalance and China's aggressive industrial development policies.

US officials say the tariff hike targets goods that might benefit from Chinese theft of technology or pressure on foreign companies to hand it over in exchange for market access.

Releasing details about what products would be affected by the tariffs, the United States trade representative's office said "the list of products issued today covers 1,102 separate U.S. tariff lines".

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Trump previously imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Europe, Japan, Mexico, a move that drew strong rebukes from US allies.

"We will immediately launch tax measures of equal scale and equal strength", the commerce ministry said in a statement on its website which also called on other countries to "take collective action" against this "outdated and backwards behaviour". The list will contain 800 product categories, down from 1,300 previously.

US officials say the tariff hike targets goods that might benefit from Chinese theft of technology or pressure on foreign companies to hand it over in exchange for market access. "Although we have to pay a certain price in coping with the trade war. such a price can be paid and is worth paying", it said.

China's refusal to get intimidated by the United States sanctions shows "it is hard to see a path to a negotiated settlement that avoids a big hit to trade and investment flows between the two countries", the Washington Post quoted Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division, as saying. 818 items making up $34 billion of the tally are affected in a first wave of notices with a lot of them relating to industrial durable goods such as aircraft turbines, isotopes, centrifuges.

The USTR's final list includes 1,102 product lines, down from about 1,300 initially, mainly focused on China's "Made In 2025" plan to become dominant in high-technology industries such as robotics, aerospace, industrial machinery and automobiles.

"I don't want China cheating on us", said Bill Gordon who grows corn and soybeans on a 2,000-acre family farm in Worthington, Minn.

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