China has denounced US President Donald Trump’s threat of new tariffs on $200-billion of Chinese goods.
The Chinese government described the threat as “blackmail” on Tuesday and warned that it would respond with “strong countermeasures”.
On Monday Trump ordered the US Trade Representative to prepare new tariffs on Chinese goods. The move has escalated a dispute over Beijing's technology policy, which companies and investors worry could drag down global trade and economic growth.
In turn, the Commerce Ministry said Beijing is ready to "defend the interests of the Chinese people and enterprises" but gave no further details as to what this could imply.
"This practice of extreme pressure and blackmail deviates from the consensus reached by two parties through many negotiations, and it also disappointed the international community," said the forcefully worded statement.
"If the US side becomes irrational and issues the list, China will have to adopt measures that are comprehensive measures in quantity and quality in order to make strong countermeasures."
On Saturday, Beijing announced it was imposing 25 percent tariffs on $34-billion of US imports. This includes soybeans and beef, and will be effective from July 6th. The move is in response to Trump's tariff hike on a similar amount of Chinese goods.
According to the Associated Press, the announcement also revealed that it was scrapping deals made with Washington to narrow China's politically volatile trade surplus with the United States by purchasing more American farm goods, natural gas and other products.
The United States and China have the world's biggest trading relationship, but official ties are increasingly strained. The dispute lies over complaints that Beijing's industry development tactics violate its free-trade pledges and hurt American companies.
Similar complaints have been raised by Europe, Japan and other trading partners, but Trump has been unusually direct about challenging Beijing and threatening to disrupt such a large volume of exports.