President Trump on Thursday threatened China with possible tariffs on “at least” another $300 billion worth of goods, escalating tensions in the trade war between the two countries as negotiations drag on.
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Trump, before heading to France for D-Day commemorations, told reporters that “a lot of interesting things are happening” during talks with China, but did not provide further details. The countries have been stuck at a trade standoff which escalated last month when Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent.
“Our talks with China, a lot of interesting things are happening. We’ll see what happens... I could go up another at least $300 billion and I’ll do that at the right time,” Trump said before boarding Air Force One, according to Reuters.
Trump did not specify which Chinese goods would be affected but said he believed China is opening to brokering a deal that would squash the trade dispute. He also mentioned Mexico, following a threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods starting Monday if the neighboring countries do not find a solution to the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the U.S.
“I think China wants to make a deal and I think Mexico wants to make a deal badly,” Trump said.
China responded to Trump’s tariffs by increasing tariffs on $60 billion worth of American products that went into effect last week. Washington then raised the stakes by placing Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. companies from supplying it with computer chips, software and other components without government approval.
Over the weekend, China released a policy paper that blamed the U.S. for the trade war and for being an untrustworthy negotiator. The report said that Beijing was still willing to negotiate to reach a fair agreement.
“The more the U.S. government is offered, the more it wants," the paper said, adding that America's negotiators are "resorting to intimidation and coercion."
"A country's sovereignty and dignity must be respected, and any agreement reached by the two sides must be based on equality and mutual benefit," it said.
Wang Shouwen, China's vice commerce minister and deputy international trade representative, also said during a news conference that China will not be pressured during the trade standoff.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he added. “During the consultations, China has overcome many difficulties and put forward pragmatic solutions. However, the U.S. has backtracked, and when you give them an inch, they want a yard.”
Chinese state media has also warned that Beijing could cut the U.S. off from exotic minerals that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is also negotiating with Mexico to prevent Trump's proposed tariffs from going into effect. Trump tweeted Wednesday night that “progress is being made, but not nearly enough” and said talks will resume Thursday. He reiterated that if both sides didn’t come to an agreement, the first round of tariffs will begin Monday. The tariff will then gradually increase in the next months to 25 percent if Trump does not see positive results, the president said.
“Immigration discussions at the White House with representatives of Mexico have ended for the day. Progress is being made, but not nearly enough!” Trump wrote. “Border arrests for May are at 133,000 because of Mexico & the Democrats in Congress refusing to budge on immigration reform.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.