The US today squarely blamed China for the ongoing tariff war between the world's top two economies, asking Beijing to stop its decades-long "unfair" trade practices.
The White House also indicated to toughen stance against Beijing by going ahead with the proposal to impose 25 per cent import duty on more than 1,300 Chinese products. It took strong exception to China's plans to impose retaliatory tariffs worth USD 50 billion on 106 American products, including soybeans, cars and small aircraft.
The announcement of plans to impose retaliatory tariffs on American exports came after the US published a list of about 1,300 Chinese exports worth USD 50 billion that could be hit by US tariffs because of Beijing's alleged theft of intellectual property and technology. "We're in the review process right now, but certainly, we expect China to make changes, and stop the unfair trade practices that it has participated in for decades,"
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference. "It will be a couple months before tariffs on either side would go into effect and be implemented. And we're hopeful that China will do the right thing," she said. Sanders said that the problem has arisen because of China and President Trump was not to be blamed for.
"Look, China created this problem, not president Trump. But we finally actually have a president who's willing to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.' We're going to stop the unfair trade practices. We're asking China to stop unfair trade practices, and we're going to work through that process over the next couple of months," Sanders said in response to a question. Meanwhile, the US slammed China for its retaliatory measure saying it is "unjustified".
"Some of the reports have basically been like we did something to China, and now China's pushing back against us. And that's just simply not the chronology at all," a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call. "They have been engaged in repeated non-market behaviour for over a decade. And having tried everything else, we're trying to get them to change that behaviour, and now they're sort of lashing out with more unjustified, market-distorting actions," the official alleged.
The official said that the situation that the Trump administration faced when it came to power was the second-largest economy in the world refusing to adopt the market principles that everybody anticipated. "When they joined, the WTO was actually insisting that we treat them as a market economy for purposes of anti-dumping laws even though they're not a market economy," the official said.
"And also insisting that they were going to apply these same non-market principles, not to more traditional industries like steel or aluminium, but now applying these to really high-tech sectors," the official said, adding that the Trump administration gave ample opportunities to China to fix its system. "They simply haven't done it," the official said.
According to the official the US made "real efforts" to give China every chance to change its ways and engage in talks with America to help address its concerns. "You see us not moving forward until we've conducted our investigation and we have a complete record to move on...On the other hand, China simply announced by fiat USD 50 billion worth of potential tariffs," the official said.
The official claimed that there was no investigation or legal theory as to why China could take such retaliatory measures and wondered how the World Trade Organisation allows it to take such steps. "So that's obviously their decision.
In our opinion, the appropriate response from China would be to change its behaviour. They've promised to do that many times in the past, but they've never fulfilled those promises," the official said. In the interest of the world economy and people, the official said, China must simply make needed reforms, stop all the market-distorting policies, and quit attacking one of their best customers