[Jack Caporal | June 20, 2018 | Inside US Trade]
“We took the statements yesterday very seriously,” Li said at the Institute for China-America Studies 2018 Annual Conference on Tuesday when asked about China’s response to Trump’s $200 billion tariff threat. “At the same time, we have to be very calm and stick to the original negotiations. Ultimately everybody will come back to the negotiation table because it is the only way to address the issue.”
“We hope yesterday’s remarks are a tactic, rather than a political decision of the president or the U.S. government,” Li added. “Let’s wait to see. As what happens today might change tomorrow, which is a kind of new normal.”
Trump on Monday directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to draw up a list of products from China worth $200 billion that could be subject to 10 percent tariffs. Trump said the move was in response to Beijing’s pledge to hit the U.S. with tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. goods. China made its threat after Trump last week announced the U.S. was moving forward with its own 25 percent tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods following a Section 301 investigation into Beijing’s intellectual property and technology transfer policies.
Li urged U.S. officials to be “credible and consistent” in their approach and added that China would not cave under the pressure of tariffs.
“The trade issue is hanging for some time and I think it will be on the table for a certain period,” he said. “But we appeal [to] our American interlocutors to be credible and consistent. When you agree, you mean it. And putting tariffs on certain … Chinese products as a pressure will achieve [nothing.] We’ve been growing up under pressure, but we never bend our principles under pressure.”