China has said it will not "fire the first shot" in a trade war with the United States, but its customs agency made clear on Thursday that Chinese tariffs on American goods would take effect immediately after US duties on Chinese goods are put in place. "The final list of covered imports will be announced by June 15, 2018, and tariffs will be imposed on those imports shortly thereafter", it noted.
Earlier on Friday, President Donald Trump followed through with tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products early Friday, prompting in-kind retaliation from Beijing.
Under a gold standard, a trade deficit country such as the United States would owe gold to trade surplus countries.
Beijing has made the semiconductor sector a key priority under its "Made in China 2025" strategy, which has intensified after a US ban on sales to Chinese phone maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) underscored China's lack of domestic chips.
"The United States violated the [World Trade Organisation] rules and launched the largest trade war in economic history to date", the Commerce Ministry said.
"With the deadline tomorrow for trade tariffs, there's clearly a lot of buying into this market at the moment".
The official newspaper China Daily accused the Trump administration of "behaving like a gang of hoodlums" who could do damage to the global economy unless other countries stop them. "To put it simply, the U.S.is opening fire on the entire world, including itself", Gao said. Months of dialogue between the two economic superpowers appeared to have failed, with Mr. Trump warning just hours before the tariffs came into effect that Washington was ready to target more Chinese goods.
Still, Chinese investors and companies were anxious.
Most-active soybean futures are trading near a two-year low on the Chicago Board of Trade and the cheap price is attracting other buyers.
The White House previously described the situation as a "trade dispute" that's justified because of China's own aggressive trade practices and alleged theft of American intellectual property - claims Chinese officials have denied.
For instance, China's 25% retaliatory duty on whiskey could harm the U.S. producers, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
"We can probably say that the trade war has officially started", said Chen Feixiang, professor of applied economics at Shanghai Jiaotong University's Antai College of Economics and Management.
China's said it was "forced to make a necessary counterattack" to a U.S. tariff hike on Chinese goods but gave no immediate details of possible retaliation.
European stocks have traded in a narrow range this week in anticipation of USA tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports set to go into effect on Friday.
"In the past, these have proved both effective and fast", said Williams, noting that similar campaigns against South Korea and Japan at times of political tension "led to 50-percent falls in auto sales by those countries' firms in a single month".
The two superpowers on Friday (Jul 6) imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars of cross-border trade.
But China also believes that its economy, with a greater focus on domestic demand and a reduced dependence on exports, can ride out the storm.
It's also possible that Europe could become ensnared in the U.S.
However, he added: "China may feel that USA universities have limited leverage over the Trump administration and limiting student numbers could undermine efforts to upgrade China's technical and scientific capabilities".
That's what happened to imported washing machines, which were hit by separate Trump tariffs in January. "The impact on the USA political environment is, however, likely to be far greater", he said. The World Trade Organization has already developed an alternate set of trade numbers that shows each country's trade in value added terms, but the administration seems to have missed the memo.
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