Trump: China ‘broke’ trade talks deal
US President Donald Trump has said China “broke the deal” in trade talks, ramping up hostilities ahead of negotiations between the two sides.
The comments came as Beijing said it would retaliate with “necessary countermeasures” if the US raises tariffs on Chinese products.
Mr Trump has vowed to more than double tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods on Friday.
Despite that, the two sides were due to hold trade talks in the US yesterday.
The Chinese delegation for the Washington talks is led by Vice-Premier Liu He, who oversees the economy and is one of the most powerful officials in China.
Ahead of the discussions, Mr Trump accused China’s leaders of breaking the deal the US was negotiating on trade.
“They broke the deal… They can’t do that. So they’ll be paying,” Mr Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Florida.
He said if the two sides do not make a deal, there was “nothing wrong with taking in more than $100bn a year”.
It had seemed that way – last week White House officials had said progress was being made.
But then on Sunday, in a move that reportedly surprised China, Mr Trump said on Twitter that the US would raise tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods this week and could introduce fresh tariffs.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer later accused China of backtracking on commitments in trade talks. However, he insisted a deal with Beijing was still possible.
What exactly prompted Mr Trump’s threat or why he says China “broke the deal” is not clear.
Sources told Reuters news agency that last week China returned a draft agreement with changes that undermined its pledges to address US demands such on issues as intellectual property rights and currency manipulation.
The Chinese commerce ministry denied backtracking and said it “keeps its promises”.
Tariffs are taxes paid by importers on foreign goods, so a 25 per cent tariff imposed by the US on Chinese goods would be paid by American companies.
The escalation of the trade war has sent waves across financial markets.
Earlier in the week, global stock markets fell sharply in response to the prospect of higher tariffs, and investors remain cautious.
The Hang Seng index was down more than 2 per cent yesterday and the Shanghai Composite had shed nearly 1.5 per cent. –BBC