China makes tariff threat as Trump offers meeting with Xi Jinping
WASHINGTON – China on Thursday sidestepped the idea of another meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and threatened retaliation if the United States follows through with new tariffs on its exports.
“China will have to take the necessary countermeasures,” said a statement from China’s Ministry of Finance.
Trump suggested that Xi meet “directly and personally” with anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, saying that could lead to “a happy and enlightened ending” to the problems in that city.
The Chinese objected to Trump’s comments about Hong Kong, calling the situation an internal manner that is none of the president’s business.
Trump tweeted Wednesday night about the possibility of a “personal meeting” between him and Xi amid massive declines in financial markets, the result of anxious investors worried about the trade war between the United States and China, as well as the Chinese crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong.
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“I know President Xi of China very well,” Trump tweeted. “He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a ‘tough business.’ I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “Regarding high-level communication, the Chinese and U.S. presidents have remained in contact with each other via meetings, phone calls and letters.”
Trump defended his tariff policy toward China and blamed the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies for the market slump.
This week, the Trump administration announced it would delay until Dec. 15 tariffs on Chinese goods that were supposed to go into effect in September. Trump said he made the move to prevent the tit-for-tat tariff war from affecting the holiday shopping period in the USA.
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In the second major sell-off this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 800 points Wednesday, or 3.05%, the worst percentage drop of the year.
In a series of tweets and statements, Trump said previous tariffs on Chinese products have hurt its economy and made the government more eager to strike a free trade agreement with the United States. The two nations have held on-and-off talks over the past year but have been unable to strike a deal.
Economists said U.S. consumers wind up paying for the tariffs, slowing economic growth and hamstringing markets.
“President Trump’s on-again, off-again tweets about new tariffs on Chinese imports have been dizzying,” said Chad Bown, senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “They have generated turmoil in financial markets and understandable confusion among consumers.”
The prospect of Chinese military action in Hong Kong, a major financial center, also rattled the markets.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Chunying repeated Trump’s words about the Hong Kong tensions.
“Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs,” he said. “As we noted, President Trump also said previously that ‘Hong Kong is a part of China. They’ll have to deal with that themselves. They don’t need advice.’ We hope the U.S. side will keep its word.”
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