'Necessary measures' to be reply

By ZHOU JIN in Beijing and CHEN WEIHUA in Washington | China Daily
Updated: March 23, 2018

China will "take all necessary measures" to resolutely protect its legitimate rights and interests that might be hampered by the possible US initiation of a Section 301 investigation into the country, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

US news media, quoting unnamed White House sources, reported that US President Donald Trump was expected to announce tariffs on Thursday of up to $60 billion a year on China to punish it for alleged intellectual property policies and practices.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the two countries have remained in close communication on trade issues at various levels.

Constructively resolving differences and friction and safeguarding the healthy and stable growth of bilateral trade is the consensus of both countries' leaders and the direction that both sides should work together, spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday.

US export restrictions on China are one of the reasons for a trade imbalance, she said, adding that complete trade balance is unrealistic and unreasonable, and it's not fair to only accuse China.

"I hope both sides sit down to conduct constructive dialogue and consultation, and pursue mutual benefits and win-win results based on equality and mutual respect," she said, adding that China and the US can play a positive role model to maintain the stability of the global economy.

The Commerce Ministry said it firmly opposes the unilateralism and protectionism of the United States.

It urged the US, in a statement on its website, to understand the mutually beneficial nature of Sino-US trade relations.

Since the two countries established diplomatic relations nearly 40 years ago, bilateral trade volume has increased by 232 times, and two-way investments exceed $230 billion, according to the statement.

US business circles have expressed concerns about the country's unilateral action, with 45 US business associations raising objections, it said.

US Trade Representative Bob Lightizer met with an outcry from US lawmakers on Wednesday about the possibility of a devastating effect of the punitive tariffs on China.

"Tariffs are not just magically imposed on somebody else, it's a cost to doing business, it affects what happens with American manufacturers and in retail, and they are ultimately paid by the consumer," said US Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon.

He described it as "outrageous" that low-income Americans are already paying a large percentage of their money on clothing and footwear. "And I am hopeful that we don't go rushing into something with China that ends up actually making it worse," he said.

In a letter to Trump last week, 25 major US retailers pleaded with him to consider the negative impact of broad tariffs. "It would hurt American households with higher prices and exacerbate a US tariff system that is already stacked against working families," the letter said.

Jackie Walorski, a Republican US representative from Indiana, said soybeans grown in her state are mainly sold to China and the Honeywell factories that supply components to Boeing aircraft to be exported to China could be the target of Chinese retaliation.

She said anxiety about tariffs and retaliation is shared regardless of industries-manufacturers, suppliers and farmers all will be affected.

Jim Renacci, a Republican US representative from Ohio, echoed the concerns, citing examples of two soybean farmers in his state and saying US soybean farmers are very concerned that they could be the target of Chinese retaliation.

Zhang Monan, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the Trump administration needs something eye-catching to attract the vote as midterm elections approach.

It is unwise to stop effective official talks. The current situation certainly needs constructive talks to resolve issues.

Tu Xinquan, a professor of international trade at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said a possible trade war could push China to seek more technology partners from Europe at the cost of US firms.

Jing Shuiyu and Zhong Nan contributed to this story.

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