- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2018

China threatened retaliation Thursday against $60 billion in tariffs on information technology and consumer electronics that President Trump is set to unveil.

“China will not sit idly by while legitimate rights and interests are hurt. We must take all necessary measures to firmly defend our rights and interests,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

The ministry vowed to “take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its legitimate rights and interests” in response to the new tariffs.

Beijing signaled it could strike back by cutting the amount of soybeans from the U.S. China is the biggest customer for U.S. soybeans.

The tariffs on technology and intellectual property are expected to be worth about $60 billion, roughly the value of U.S. technology lost to China due to the country’s onerous trade rules.

Mr. Trump plans to sign a memorandum Thursday cracking down on Beijing’s unfair trade practices and theft of U.S. intellectual property, including the tariffs and measures limiting Chinese ownership in U.S. technology firms.

The tariffs, which chiefly target information technology, consumer electronics and telecoms, follow through on Mr. Trump’s tough talk against China’s trade abuses that helped fuel his White House win.

The list of items subject to the tariff could also be expanded to include clothing and shoes, according to Reuters, which first reported the tariff plan last week.

The measures enjoyed strong support from Mr. Trump’s economic team, especially U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Beyond the White House, however, business leaders and free-traders argue that U.S. consumers are the ones who ultimately pay the new tax.

The tariffs are being imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which authorizes the president to take action or retaliation against unjustified, unreasonable or discriminatory foreign trade laws that hurt U.S. commerce.

The administration has warned Beijing to further open markets and loosen rules that disadvantage U.S. companies, and the tariffs hammer home the demand.

The implementation of the tariffs will be delayed, allowing for negotiations with China over trade practices and intellectually property rights.

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