Tit-for-tat tariff war threats return as US-China trade talks sour

Unless China stops “cheating our workers”, the US will not back down on imposing the new tariffs on Chinese imports, the US president said.

United States (US) president Donald Trump toughened his stance on China when he spoke to an audience at a rally in Florida on Wednesday, saying that China has “broke the deal” it had reached in the trade talks with the US.

Unless China stops “cheating our workers”, the US will not back down on imposing the new tariffs on Chinese imports, the US president added.

‘We won't back down until China stops cheating our workers and stealing our jobs, and that's what's going to happen, otherwise we don't have to do business with them,’ Mr Trump told a cheering crowd, Reuters said.

‘They broke the deal…They can’t do that. So they’ll be paying. If we don't make the deal, nothing wrong with taking in more than US$100 billion a year,’ the president said.

The words from the US president triggered another round of selling in Asian markets. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.26% while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index dipped 0.71% at 2.30pm Beijing time.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 2.09% or 607.05 points, at 28,396.15 while Singapore’s Straits Times Index was down 0.25%.

China to retaliate if the US hike tariffs

In a counterattack, Beijing has said that it would retaliate if the tariffs due on Friday rise. The US is planning to hike the tariffs of US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% at 12.01am on May 10.

In a response, China's Commerce Ministry said on its website, without elaborating: ‘The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the US tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures.’

A Chinese delegation including China’s vice premier Liu He will be visiting the US on May 9 to 10, in a last minute attempt to rectify the situation.

The delegation was originally planned to visit for a longer trip. Speculations that both sides were concluding their talks was up in the air before Mr Trump shot two sudden tweets on Sunday stating that the US will be raising tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods, with claims that the deal has been progressing too slowly.

Mr Trump’s Sunday tweets arrived after US trade representative Robert Lighthizer updated him with details that China was pulling back from previous commitments.

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