China is ready to throw down if Trump starts a trade war

“It's unrealistic and unreasonable to demand complete equality in trade.”
Getty Images

Beijing reminded Donald Trump on Thursday that it would retaliate if the president imposed the anticipated tariffs worth billions of dollars on Chinese goods.

“China will certainly take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its legitimate rights and interests,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday, stoking fears of a trade war.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing would seek talks to find a mutually beneficial solution, but would not shy away from a fight.

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“China does not want to fight a trade war with anyone. But if anyone forces us to fight one, we will neither be scared nor hide.”

Hua blamed U.S. export restrictions for the $375 billion trade surplus with the United States, a figure that’s drawn Trump’s ire, saying it was unfair to criticize the surplus given that U.S. export controls blocked the sale of certain high-tech American-made goods that China wanted.

“It's unrealistic and unreasonable to demand complete equality in trade,” she said.

“How many soybeans should China buy that are equal to one Boeing aircraft? Or, if China buys a certain number of Boeing aircraft should the U.S. buy an equal number of C919s?” she said, referring to a Chinese-made passenger plane.

The White House has said Trump will sign a presidential memorandum “targeting China’s economic aggression” at 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday, raising the prospect of a trade war between the world’s leading economic powers. It follows other recent trade measures from the administration including hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which affect China along with allies in Europe and Asia.

Trump has regularly railed against the U.S.’s trading relationship with China, accusing Beijing of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. intellectual property. One study has estimated the cost to the U.S. of Chinese counterfeit goods, software piracy and theft of trade secrets at as much as $600 billion.

U.S. agriculture, such as soybean or sorghum exports, will be a likely target if Beijing retaliates to new U.S. tariffs.

Cover image: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at a joint news conference held after their meeting in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. (Kyodo News via Getty Images)