China is urging American companies to tell the U.S. government to protect their interests.
At issue is a Trump administration plan for 10-percent tariffs on Chinese products entering the United States. Those imported goods are worth about $200 billion.
“We hope U.S. firms can do more to lobby the U.S. government and work hard to defend their interests,” said a spokesman for China’s commerce ministry. He told reporters in Beijing that foreign businesses operating in China would suffer in a trade war.
The statement is the latest move in growing trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. The spokesman noted that the two sides are not in talks to end the dispute.
The proposed new U.S. tariffs follow the Trump administration’s decision to require taxes on $50 billion in Chinese goods.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration has urged China to end unfair trade, open its market and take part in true market competition.
Instead of dealing with U.S. concerns, China has begun to take steps against American products, Lighthizer said. “There is no justification for such action," he added.
The proposed new taxes come just days after the administration ordered 25 percent tariffs on more than 800 Chinese products. Those imported goods are worth about $34 billion. The administration blamed what it believes are China’s unfair trade actions and failure to protect intellectual property rights.
A short time later, the Chinese government ordered an equal amount of taxes on U.S. goods.
Christine McDaniel is a senior research fellow at George Mason University in Virginia. She told VOA that the administration's strategy of tariffs and investment restrictions could be costly to U.S. manufacturers and citizens alike.
"A tariff is a tax and … American manufacturers are simply tied to suppliers from outside the U.S. for their competitiveness,” she said. “So when we tax those imports, we’re taxing American manufacturers…and that heavily handicaps our own manufacturers."
McDaniel said the longer the tariff battle lasts, the greater the effect will be on both economies. She added trade actions against China would be more effective if they were done at the same time as actions by America's allies.
McDaniel said that she expects China to slowly move away from state-owned businesses and use more free market rules, but predicts that will take time.
U.S. lawmakers have generally expressed support for the Trump administration’s latest move against China. But the move brought criticism from Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Ryan said he opposes the tariffs and “they are not the right way to go." China is one of many countries that use unfair trade rules, but tariffs are not the right way to solve the problem, he added.
Ryan is retiring at the end of his term in January 2019. He is a member of Trump’s Republican Party.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, another Republican, said in a statement the administration’s decision “appears reckless and is not a targeted approach.”
Hatch is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He also is retiring at the end of his term.
But other Republicans support the president's move. Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett said China will lose a trade war “because right now we are importing about $5 of Chinese goods for every $1 we send to China. If they want to play this game, the Chinese economy will be hurt more."
Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey predicted that “the Chinese government will be hurt… Where will they find markets like the U.S.? They are not going to find as many in the EU or anywhere else for their products."
A high-level administration official said a final decision on the proposed tariffs will be made later this year.
I’m Susan Shand.
This story was based on reports from Reuters news agency and VOA News. Susan Shand adapted the stories for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
tariff – n. a tax on imported or sometimes exported goods
firm – n. a business or company
lobby – v. an organized group of people who work together to influence government decisions that relate to a particular industry, issue
fellow – n. someone appointed to a position in which he or she receives financial aid and is offered a chance to carry out research
strategy – n. a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time
handicap – v. a problem, situation, or event that makes progress or success difficult
reckless – adj. not showing proper concern about the possible bad results of your actions
approach – n. a way of dealing with something : a way of doing or thinking about something