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China slams US ‘blackmailing’ as Trump issues new trade threat

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U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods and Beijing warned it would retaliate, in a rapid escalation of the trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.

Trump’s latest move, as Washington fights trade battles on several fronts, was unexpectedly swift and sharp.

It was retaliation, he said, for China’s decision to raise tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. goods, which came after Trump announced similar tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.

“After the legal process is complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.

The comments sent global stock markets skidding and weakened both the dollar and the Chinese yuan on Tuesday. Shanghai stocks plunged to two-year lows.

China’s commerce ministry said Beijing will fight back with “qualitative” and “quantitative” measures if the United States publishes an additional list of tariffs on Chinese goods.

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“Such a practice of extreme pressure and blackmailing deviates from the consensus reached by both sides on multiple occasions,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The United States has initiated a trade war and violated market regulations, and is harming the interests of not just the people of China and the U.S., but of the world.”

U.S. business groups said members were bracing for a backlash from the Chinese government that would affect all American firms in China, not just in sectors facing tariffs.

Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council in Beijing, said China would undoubtedly “begin looking at other ways to enforce action against U.S companies that are operating in the market.”

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Some companies have reported Beijing is meeting with Chinese businesses to discuss shifting contracts for U.S. goods and services to suppliers from Europe or Japan, or to local Chinese firms, Parker said.

Washington and Beijing appeared increasingly headed toward open trade conflict after several rounds of talks failed to resolve U.S. complaints over Chinese industrial policies, lack of market access in China and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said his office was preparing the proposed tariffs and they would undergo a similar legal process as previous ones, which were subject to a public comment period, a public hearing and some revisions. He did not say when the new target list would be unveiled.

“As China hawks, like Lighthizer and (Peter) Navarro, appear to have gained power within the Trump administration lately, an all-out trade war now seems more inevitable,” said Yasunari Ueno, chief market analyst at Mizuho Securities in Japan.

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TIT-FOR-TAT

On Friday, Trump said he was pushing ahead with a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese products, prompting Beijing to respond in kind.

Some of those tariffs will be applied from July 6, while the White House is expected to announce restrictions on investments by Chinese companies in the United States by June 30.

“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology. Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong,” Trump said.

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Trump said if China increases its tariffs again in response to the latest U.S. move, “we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods.”

Trump said he has “an excellent relationship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping and they “will continue working together on many issues.”

But, he said, “the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world.”

COOLING CHINESE ECONOMY
The intensifying trade row threatens to put more pressure on the already cooling Chinese economy, risking an end to a rare spell of synchronized global expansion and collateral damage for its export-reliant Asian neighbors.

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China’s central bank unexpectedly injected 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) in medium-term funds into the banking system on Tuesday in a move analysts said reflected concerns about liquidity but also the potential economic drag from a full-blown trade war.

China imported $129.89 billion of U.S. goods last year, while the U.S. purchased $505.47 billion of Chinese products, according to U.S. data.

Derek Scissors, a China scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, said that means China will soon run out of imports of U.S. goods on which to impose retaliatory tariffs.

China was unlikely change its industrial policies in response to the U.S. trade threats, he said. That could take a long and painful trade fight.

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“As I’ve said from the beginning, China will back off its industrial plans only when U.S. trade measures are large and lasting enough to threaten the influx of foreign exchange. Not due to announcements,” he said.

Reporting by Eric Beech and David Lawder in WASHINGTON; Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Lee Chyen Yee in Singapore Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Sandra Maler & Kim Coghill

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Rachel Maddow unleashes hellfire on Trump’s long history of appointing shady characters to his cabinet

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On Tuesday, in response to the news that Defense Secretary nominee Patrick Shanahan is withdrawing over a domestic violence scandal, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow walked through President Donald Trump's catastrophically bad attempts to staff the top levels of the military system — attempts that led to a long parade of people withdrawing in disgrace.

First, Maddow noted, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort unsuccessfully tried to get a bank CEO he struck a corrupt deal with to the Pentagon — only for that CEO to himself be arrested and charged with a federal crime.

"Don't worry, though, they had a plan 'B,'" said Maddow. "The president found another guy to nominate for that same job ... That announcement, Vinnie Viola, that plan "B" seemed to be going well until this part of that nominee's track record was released by the local police department in Saratoga Springs, New York. A police incident report about the new Trump Army Cecretary nominee punching a guy out at a high-end horse auction in Saratoga Springs ... less than six months before Trump announced him as his plan 'B' nominee to be Secretary of the Army. I guess they didn't Google him."

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Trump says ‘Republicans do not believe in socialism’ — but promises to ‘defend Medicare and Social Security’

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President Donald Trump complained about socialism seconds before promising to defend socialist programs during his official 2020 re-election campaign kickoff in Orland, Florida.

Trump first complained about Medicare for All, which would expand the popular health care program for seniors to those below age 65.

"America will never be a socialist country," Trump argued, to applause.

"Republicans do not believe in socialism," he argued. "We believe in freedom, and so do you."

"We will defend Medicare and Social Security for our great seniors," Trump bizarrely said next.

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Trump introduced his family at his official campaign kickoff — including ‘my late brother Fred, Jr’

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President Donald Trump introduced a long-deceased sibling moments after officially announcing his re-election bid during a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida.

"And I am profoundly thankful to my family, I have a great family. Melania, Don, Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, baron, Lara, Jared, Robert, Marianne, Elizabeth and my late brother, Fred, Jr." Trump said.

Fred, Jr. was Trump's older brother and died of a heart attack almost four decades ago, passing in 1981.

"In a telephone interview last week, Mr. Trump said he had learned by watching his brother how bad choices could drag down even those who seemed destined to rise," The New York Times reported in 2016. Seeing his brother suffering led him to avoid ever trying alcohol or cigarettes, he said."

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