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

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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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Syria ‘accidentally shot down’ Russian spy plane during Israeli attack

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Russia’s defence ministry said one of its military surveillance aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean at the same time as Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.

“Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea,” the ministry said. Contact was lost at about 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Monday, it added.

There are conflicting reports as to who is responsible for the downing of the aircraft, however the US claims it was accidentally shot down by the Syrian regime’s anti-aircraft artillery after the Syrians came under fire by Israeli missiles.

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A US official said Washington believed the aircraft, the turbo-prop plane used for electronic reconnaissance, was inadvertently shot down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow’s ally, the Syrian Government.

Russsia’s Defence Ministry said the aircraft was returning to the Russian-run Hmeymim airbase in Latakia province when it disappeared from radar screens at about 11:00pm Moscow time.

The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 kilometres from the Syrian coastline, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

The fate of the 14 people on board the missing plane is unknown, and a rescue operation has been organised out of the Hmeymim base, the ministry said.

Agencies

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