China said Wednesday that it would not fire the first shot in its continuing trade battle with the United States.
“We will never fire the first shot and will not implement tariffs ahead of the U.S.,” Beijing’s Ministry of Finance said in a statement released just two days before President Donald Trump’s administration is set to impose the first of billions of dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese imports.
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have steadily increased over the last year as a result of the administration’s plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods in an effort to stop what President Trump views as unfair trade practices and the theft of intellectual property.
In April, Beijing vowed to retaliate by placing matching tariffs on U.S. goods worth roughly $50 billion.
President Trump hit back at China’s retaliation plan in June when he threatened to add another $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.
“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” Trump said when announcing the $200 billion threat. “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong.”
“These tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced,” he added.
The administration is set to begin imposing tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.
China responded by pressuring countries in the European Union to launch joint action against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization.
The European Union rejected the idea of teaming up with Beijing against Washington, according to a Reuters report.
Instead, they will work to find a multilateral trading system at the Sino-European summit in Beijing on July 16-17.