U.S. President Donald Trump said June 6 that he would make a final decision on whether to impose tariffs on more Chinese goods after he meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G20 meeting in Japan later this month.
Trump earlier that day indicated that tariffs could be forthcoming on “at least” $300 billion of Chinese goods, but said he thought China wanted to make a deal with the United States.
Later, Trump told reporters ahead of talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Normandy that “I will make that decision I would say over the next few weeks, probably right after the G20.” The two had earlier attended a ceremony for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
“One way or another I’ll make that decision after the G20. I’ll be meeting with President Xi [Jinping] and we will see what happens,” Trump said.
Under Trump’s direction, the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office has already begun the process for enacting 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports by drafting a list of items.
Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have escalated since trade talks broke down in early May.
On May 10, the U.S. administration increased tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on a $200 billion list of Chinese goods, after accusing the Chinese regime of backtracking on commitments negotiated over months of trade talks. The regime responded with a tariff hike on $60 billion of U.S. goods.
Shortly after, the United States placed an export ban on Chinese telecom giant Huawei, preventing it from doing business with American firms on national security grounds. In apparent retaliation, the regime said last week that it would establish its own “unreliable entities list” of foreign companies, persons, and organizations that have harmed Chinese firms’ interests, without providing further detail on the entities to be included or the punishments imposed.
Since the breakdown of talks, the communist regime has also ramped up its anti-U.S. rhetoric in commentaries published in state-run media and official statements, including a policy paper released over the weekend that squarely blamed the United States for the lack of progress in trade discussions. The U.S. administration expressed disappointment in the paper, saying that the regime had misrepresented the trade negotiations between the two countries.
After Trump made his initial remarks on June 6, China’s Ministry of Commerce swiftly responded in a hawkish tone.
“If the United States willfully decides to escalate tensions, we’ll fight to the end,” ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a regular news briefing on Thursday.
The Commerce Ministry also issued a report Thursday on how the United States has benefited from years of economic and trade cooperation with China, saying U.S. claims that China has taken advantage of bilateral trade were groundless.
Trade tensions began last March after the USTR’s Section 301 investigation found that the regime’s unfair trade practices, including theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced technology transfer, and cyber theft of trade secrets, have cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The U.S. administration then imposed punitive tariffs, with the Chinese regime retaliating tit-for-tat.
Since then, the United States has held firm in negotiations that the regime must address such structural issues.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to meet People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang this weekend at a gathering of G20 finance leaders in Japan, the first face-to-face discussion between key negotiators in nearly a month.
Reuters contributed to this report.