BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s threatened tariffs on $34 billion (£25.75 billion) of U.S. goods will take effect from the beginning of the day on July 6, a person with knowledge of the plan told Reuters, amid worsening trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Washington has said it would implement tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports on July 6, and Beijing has vowed to retaliate in kind on the same day.
However, the 12-hour time difference puts Beijing ahead in terms of actually implementing the tariffs.
“Our measures are equal and being equal means that if the U.S. starts on July 6, we start on July 6,” the source told Reuters, who requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to media. “The implementation time for all policies starts at midnight.”
China’s customs agency did not answer a phone call seeking comment, and its commerce ministry did not reply to a fax requesting comment.
Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China was ready to act, though did not confirm the date Chinese tariffs may start.
“China has already made preparations. As long as the United States issues a so-called tariff list, China will take necessary measures to firmly protect its legitimate interests,” Lu said, without elaborating.
Chinese state media on Wednesday kept up its steady drum beat of criticism of the United States.
The official China Daily said the United States was intentionally trying to prevent China from developing so it was unable to challenge the United States’ role in the global economic order.
“The U.S. has maintained hegemony in the military and financial fields for many decades. Now it is pursuing economic hegemony,” the English-language newspaper said in an editorial.
“It has frequently waged wars against other sovereign countries and made use of the dominant influence of the U.S. dollar in the international markets to fleece other countries. Now it is attempting to resort to an all-out trade and economic war to hold back China’s normal development.”
Widely-read tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said the increasingly likely trade war would bring chaos to the world.
“Counterstrike is major economies’ first reaction to Washington’s trade war,” it said in its editorial.
“It’s hard to predict where these moves will lead the world, but Washington will unavoidably pay heavy prices for its attempts to change the whole world to its economic tributary.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to escalate the trade conflict with tariffs on as much as $400 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates against the U.S. tariffs set to take effect on Friday.
Chinese currency and stock markets have been jittery ahead of Friday’s tariff implementation.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam)