US made ‘fundamental misjudgement’ over tariff increases, says Chinese state newspaper

China’s vice-premier Liu He (centre) denied that his country had U-turned on trade agreements. (Source: Getty)

The US made “a fundamental misjudgement” by ratcheting up tariffs on $200bn (£154bn) of Chinese goods and has “seriously underestimated China’s endurance,” according to an editorial article published today by the Global Times, a government-aligned Chinese tabloid newspaper.

China’s size means that the US “should not have an unrealistic illusion that once the trade war intensifies, it will have more bargaining chips at the negotiation table,” the English-language newspaper said, reacting to the US increasing tariffs on the goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

The strong words came after Chinese vice-premier Liu He said that China had not rowed back on promises made in the trade deal between the two countries.

His statements to Hong Kong news service Phoenix were China’s first official response to allegations that it had backtracked on key elements of the deal. Liu said China objected to some of the phrasing of the agreement, and that it believed making changes to a deal before it is finalised was normal.

US President Donald Trump yesterday reiterated his statement that China reneged on its promises because it thought it would be able to negotiate the deal with a Democratic president following the 2020 election.

“I think that China felt they were being beaten so badly in the recent negotiation that they may as well wait around for the next election, 2020, to see if they could get lucky & have a Democrat win – in which case they would continue to rip-off the USA for $500 Billion a year,” he tweeted.

Today, the Global Times – which does not speak for the government but is run by the state-owned People’s Daily newspaper – said the United States had “seriously underestimated China’s endurance”.

Its editorial said: “Because of the political system and social structure, China is in a much stronger position than other countries to weather the storm of a trade war.”

The Global Times said the US is wrong in “believing China is unilaterally benefitting from China-US economic and trade relations”.

However, it said China “is willing to take necessary measures to improve those balances between the two countries”.

Talks are due to continue in Washington over the coming week, Liu said, according to Chinese state television on Saturday.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said on Friday that Trump had ordered him to begin the process of raising tariffs on “essentially all” remaining imports from China – a total of around $300bn worth of goods.

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