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China warns new US tariffs will ‘severely affect’ relations

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BEIJING: Beijing on Tuesday warned new US tariffs on $18 billion worth of imports from China would “severely affect” relations between the two countries.

“This will severely affect the atmosphere for bilateral cooperation,” China’s commerce ministry said in a statement.

Beijing called on the US to “immediately rectify its mistaken actions and cancel the additional tariff measures against China”.

The White House said Tuesday it was hiking tariffs on $18 billion worth of imports from China, targeting strategic sectors like electric vehicles, batteries, steel and critical minerals.

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The decision comes as President Joe Biden gears up for a re-run of his 2020 contest with Republican rival Donald Trump in November’s election, with officials criticizing Trump’s record on trade as they made the announcement.

The tariff rate on EVs is set to quadruple to 100 percent this year while the one for semiconductors will surge from 25 percent to 50 percent by next year, said the White House.

This follows a review of tariffs imposed during a trade war between Washington and Beijing, during which then president Trump introduced levies on some $300 billion in goods from China.

The so-called Section 301 investigation was the primary tool the Trump administration used to justify tariffs, and the US Trade Representative is required to look into the impact of the levies after four years.

Reacting to the announcement, Beijing said it “resolutely opposes this and makes stern representations”.

Washington, it said, was “politicizing and instrumentalising economic and trade issues, in a typical case of political manipulation”.

“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction with this,” the commerce ministry said.

The 301 tariffs, it added, are “not in line with the spirit of the consensus reached by the two heads of state”, referring to a meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Biden last year.

“China will take resolute measures to defend its own rights and interests,” it pledged.

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