China commerce ministry condemns U.S. tariffs, will take countermeasures

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s commerce ministry said on Wednesday it “strongly condemns and firmly opposes” the proposed U.S. tariffs following the Section 301 probe and will take counter measures, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The response follows a move by the Trump administration on Tuesday to slap 25 percent tariffs on some 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical products to try to force changes in Beijing’s intellectual property practices.

The Ministry of Commerce (MofCom) said it “will soon take measure of equal intensity and scale against U.S. goods.”

“We have the confidence and ability to respond to any protectionist measures by the United States,” said MofCom.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office target list is broad and includes products from military shotguns to sewing machines.

The USTR list follows China’s imposition of tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. fruit, nuts and pork to protest new U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs imposed last month by U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The findings of the US Section 301 investigation are a willful distortion of facts and full of selective assertions and allegations,” said Zhang Xiangchen, Beijing’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

The investigation was made on Chinese imports under Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act.

“What Washington truly wishes is not a trade war, but to intimidate China by wielding the baton,” said an editorial in the Global Times paper.

“The latest U.S. measures against China carry a sense of containment, which purportedly is commonplace among U.S. politicians,” it added.

The widely-read state run Global Times is run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, although its stance does not necessarily equate with Chinese government policy.

Reporting by Cheng Fang, Ryan Woo, Ben Blanchard and Tony Munroe in Beijing and Engen Tham in Shanghai; Writing by Engen Tham; Editing by Sam Holmes