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China hits back with new tariffs on US meat, wine and fruit

Gorkha Post

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BEIJING — China said it is imposing new tariffs on meat, fruit, wine and other products from the United States as retaliation against taxes approved by US President Donald Trump on imported steel and aluminium.

The Chinese finance ministry said in a statement that the new tariffs would begin this Monday. The announcement follows warnings Chinese officials have made for several weeks in an escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

The statement on the ministry website said it was a countermeasure in response to a previous US move to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

China’s Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said it would increase the tariff rate on pork products and aluminium scrap by 25 per cent. It said it would also impose a new 15 per cent tariff on 120 other imported US commodities, including almonds, apples and berries.

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The tariffs mirrored Mr Trump’s 25 per cent charge on imported steel and 15 per cent hike on aluminium.

Although in violation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the US measure went into effect on March 23, which has severely undermined China’s interests, according to the statement from Beijing.

Trump also announced separate plans to slap tariffs on nearly $50 billion in Chinese imports. Mr Trump’s planned tariffs were partly aimed at punishing Beijing for allegedly stealing American technology and pressuring US companies to hand it over.

But the Chinese response could end up hurting American farmers, many of whom are from regions that voted for Mr Trump in 2016.

AP/Reuters

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China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline

Thompson Reuters

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BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

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The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.

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