WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump ratcheted up trade tensions with China even further on Friday, announcing that he will impose 25-percent tariffs on Chinese technology imports worth roughly $50 billion.
The tariffs, which could take effect as soon as later on Friday, will primarily target products containing “industrially significant technologies” and others related to the Made in China 2025 initiative.
The move is aimed at cracking down on Beijings policies that the White House says force foreign companies to hand over valuable technology and data in order to operate in the Chinese market.
But it threatens to derail ongoing trade talks between the two countries, including plans for Beijing to purchase more U.S. agricultural and energy products — and will spark retaliation from China as soon as the penalties take effect. Beijing will respond in kind to the American tariffs, a Chinese government spokesman said Friday.
“These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs,” Trump said in a statement. “In addition, they will serve as an initial step toward bringing balance to the trade relationship between the United States and China.”
The U.S. also will pursue additional tariffs if China engages in retaliatory measures like imposing new tariffs, raising non-tariff barriers or otherwise limiting U.S. exporters or companies operating in China, Trump said.
Trump is hoping to put the tariffs into effect by the end of the month, if not sooner, an administration official told POLITICO.
But that could get delayed if the president chooses to simply use publication of the final product list as a warning shot against China, keeping the tariffs in limbo to use as negotiating leverage in larger trade talks between the two sides.
Beijing warned again on Friday, however, that it will respond in kind to American tariffs, and that any previous concessions will be void if and when the tariffs take effect.
“If the U.S. takes unilateral and protectionist measures that harm Chinese interests, we will respond immediately by taking the necessary decisions to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, according to an official readout.