August 22, 2019 / 7:29 AM / 25 days ago

China says hopes U.S. stops wrong tariff action, vows to retaliate if new levies imposed

FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, China August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday it hopes the United States will stop its wrong tariff action, adding that any new tariffs would lead to escalation.

The United States said early this month it would slap duties on $300 billion of Chinese goods from Sept. 1, which would effectively extend its tariffs to all of China’s exports to the United States.

But President Donald Trump later backed off part of the plan, delaying duties on some items such as cellphones, laptops and other consumer goods to mid-December, in the hopes of blunting their impact on U.S. holiday sales.

“Despite the U.S. decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese goods .... if the United States rides roughshod over China’s opposition and impose any new tariffs, China will be forced to adopt retaliatory actions”, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng told a news briefing.

Gao said trade teams from both sides have been keeping in touch, when asked whether the Chinese vice Premier Liu He would travel to Washington for the next round of face-to-face talks.

When asked if Washington has raised the Hong Kong issue with China during the trade negotiations, Gao referred to Trump’s previous remarks that Hong Kong is part of China and it is not necessary for the U.S. to intervene.

“I hope U.S. side can stick to its words,” said Gao.

President Donald Trump over the weekend warned against a crackdown in Hong Kong like Beijing’s suppression of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, which would make reaching a deal he has been seeking to end a trade war with China “very hard”.

Reporting by Yawen Chen and Se Young Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill

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