China retaliates against US tariffs with levy on $50bn worth of goods

China's deputy finance minister insisted his country does not want a trade war

China retaliates against US tariffs with levy on $50bn worth of goods

Chinese Finance Vice Minister Zhu Guangyao speaks during a press conference on Sino-US trade issues in Beijing. Picture by: Andy Wong/AP/Press Association Images

Fears of a trade war between China and the US have intensified, after Chinese authorities announced a batch of retaliatory tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods.

The Trump administration yesterday announced a planned 25% tariff on a wide selection of items from China - ranging from industrial machines, steel and airplane parts to television sets and weapons (such as rocket launchers and military rifles).

In a statement, US officials said: "The US Trade Representative [Robert Lighthizer] has determined that the acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation covered in the investigation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict US commerce."

Officials said the hundreds of items listed are worth around $50 billion in trade for China.

It has now prompted a swift response from China, where authorities today announced a tit-for-tat list of goods now facing 25% tariffs - again said to represent a trading value of $50 billion.

Items on the Chinese list include agricultural exports such as soybeans, and vehicles including some airplanes and trucks.

"We don't want a trade war"

In a press conference, China's deputy finance minister Zhu Guangyao insisted China did not want a trade war.

He said: "The Chinese side is of the view that China-US trade is mutually beneficial - that is the nature of trade relations between our two countries.

"Given such a scale of economic cooperation, trade frictions are natural and we want to have policy communication and consultation to address such disputes... and we need to address these issues in accordance with World Trade Organisation rules."

He added: "China's attitude is clear - we don't want a trade war, because a trade war would hurt the interests of both countries... and the interests of the world economy."

Trade tensions between the two countries have increased in the wake of Donald Trump's announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last month - a move which prompted China to hit $3bn worth of US imports with tariffs earlier this week.

President Trump has previously suggested 'trade wars are good', despite strong opposition to the controversial metal tariffs within both his own party and administration.