China has threatened to withdraw from its previously agreed commitments with Washington to cut its bilateral trade deficit on goods with the USA if President Donald Trump moves ahead with tariffs on $50bn-worth of Chinese products.
The warning came after delegations led by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and China's top economic official Vice Premier Liu He wrapped up a meeting on Beijing's pledge to narrow its trade surplus.
The two countries had later agreed, during a visit by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to Washington, to increase U.S. imports to China and put tariffs on hold - a decision reverted Tuesday by the US.
The planned USA trade sanctions on Beijing include restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in tech goods.
China last week gave state-controlled companies the nod to resume buying the oilseed, used in animal feed, after Beijing agreed on May 19 to import more goods and services from the USA, its top trading partner, in order to ease the $335 billion trade gap between the two countries. But the United States Commerce Secretary appeared to be the only one in a positive mood.
President Donald Trump vowed he can save the American farmer with the new trade deals he's negotiating with countries around the globe.
"The United States will continue efforts to protect domestic technology and intellectual property, stop noneconomic transfers of industrially significant technology and intellectual property to China, and enhance access to the Chinese market", the White House statement read. Mnuchin, who announced the truce in mid-May, has been at loggerheads with more protectionist-minded Trump administration figures. "However, a major challenge for China will be to reduce the bilateral trade deficit by $200 billion per year over the medium term as requested by Washington, since that will be a mammoth task".
The U.S. delegation conveyed Trump's goal of a fair trading relationship with China, the White House said in a statement.
China has promised to "significantly increase" purchases of farm goods, energy and other products and services.
The tariffs on USA allies also risk hampering their joint efforts to address mutual concerns about Chinese trade practices such as forced technology transfers and state support for businesses.
On the Chinese side, officials including Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, Central Bank Governor Yi Gang, Vice Agricultural Minister Han Jun, and Li Fanrong, vice minister of national energy administration, accompanied Liu in the talks, according to a media pool report.
"China is willing to increase imports from all countries in the world including the United States", the statement said.
Bruno Le Maire, France's finance and economy minister, was blunt in his assessment of the meeting.
China too threatened a tit-for-tat retaliation but blinked in the end with a categorical undertaking to import more goods from the United States, sparking off concerns over the likely trade war between the two countries for its potential to create a cascading effect on the global trade order.
In a conference call later Monday with grassroots supporters, he said: "We will be in a very strong position very soon".
Trump's tariff threat targeting technology goods reflects American alarm about China's status as a potential competitor in profitable fields from solar power to electric cars to biotechnology. Beijing had said it reserved the right to retaliate.
Allies together with Canada and the European Union are threatening retaliatory tariffs. The San Diego-based firm is now waiting to see the outcome of the Ross talks before executives travel to China, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
The dispute with China comes at the same time Mr. Trump has riled some of America's closest allies with the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
As part of the new purchases, China would import larger amounts of USA soybeans, corn, natural gas, crude oil, coal, and more, according to the Journal. But change technology tactics that are China's path to prosperity and its rightful place as a global leader?
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