The White House says that President Donald Trump’s criticisms of the special counsel’s Russia probe is not obstruction. (Aug. 1)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration threatened Wednesday to more than double tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, escalating a trade war hours after a Chinese official warned Beijing would not respond to U.S. “blackmail.”
Even as many Republicans on Capitol Hill have grown increasingly wary of Trump’s trade policies, Trump asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to increase tariffs on the Chinese goods to 25 percent, up from the 10 percent announced earlier this year, according to a statement from the USTR office.
Trump is doubling down on his threats to China as his administration is simultaneously trying to mitigate the effect tariffs have had on farmers, particularly soybean and hog growers in Iowa, Minnesota and other Midwestern states that may help decide this year’s midterm elections.
Two senior administration officials, who described Trump’s plans but were not authorized to speak with their names attached, said the increased tariffs were not in response to a specific action by China but stemmed for a belief that Beijing has not responded to earlier threats. The officials, who spoke on a call with reporters, said communication remains open between the two countries but that substantive talks to resolve the dispute had not taken place.
“We have been very clear about the specific changes China should undertake,” Lighthizer said in a statement. “Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behavior, China has illegally retaliated against U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”
So far, neither China nor the United States has been willing to make concessions in the trade fight.
Geng Shuang, the foreign ministry’s spokesman, indicated in a briefing Wednesday that Beijing had no intention of backing down first. U.S. pressure and “blackmail” won’t have an effect, he told reporters. If the U.S. approves additional tariffs, he said, China would retaliate.
Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, opposed Trump’s latest escalation, arguing that tariffs would “hurt U.S. families and workers more than they will hurt China.”
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