China state media slams Trump's 'gang of hoodlums'
China’s state media lashed out at President Donald Trump on Friday, accusing the White House of behaving like a “gang of hoodlums” as the world’s two biggest economies careened toward the start of an outright trade war.
The United States imposed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports on Friday and has warned it may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount that the United States imported from China last year.
Beijing has vowed to immediately respond with an equal amount of tariffs of its own against U.S.-made light vehicles, agricultural and other products, though it is unclear how swiftly the actions could escalate into an all-out trade war.
“In effect, the Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China,” the state-run China Daily newspaper said in an English language editorial on Friday.
“Its unruliness looks set to have a profoundly damaging impact on the global economic landscape in the coming decades, unless countries stand together to oppose it.”
China’s foreign minister said in a statement on Friday that trade protectionism and unilateral actions were “short-sighted” and called on European counties to work with China to safeguard a globally free trade system.
Earlier on Thursday China accused the United States of “opening fire” on the world with its raft of tariffs aimed at China, but also at trade partners in North America and Europe.
The dispute has roiled financial markets including stocks, currencies and the global trade of commodities from soybeans to coal in recent weeks. U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday, however, amid hopes that American trade tensions with Europe may ease after comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Stocks in Asia were edgy in early Friday trade.
“This is not economic armageddon. We will not have to hunt our food with pointy sticks. But it is applying the brakes to a global economy that has less durable momentum than appears to be the case,” Rob Carnell, chief economist at ING, said in a note to clients.
China’s Global Times, a widely-read tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said China “does not want to get involved in a trade war”, but that it would not back down against the United States.
“If the U.S. is determined to escalate conflicts with China then so be it,” the newspaper said in an editorial. “Perhaps the Trump administration can only clear its mind after a fight.”
There was no evidence of last-minute negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials, business sources in Washington and Beijing said. Requests for comment went unanswered at the U.S. Treasury, USTR and the U.S. Commerce Department.
The China Daily editorial said there should be no doubting Beijing’s resolve and that China would not give into blackmail. “China, which is in the crosshairs of the Trump administration’s racketeering gun sights, has no choice but to fight back.”
Beijing has said it will not “fire the first shot” in a trade war with the United States, but has made clear that Chinese tariffs on American goods would take effect immediately after U.S. duties on Chinese goods are put in place.