A top White House adviser warned China on Friday not to underestimate U.S. President Donald Trump's resolve in a brewing trade battle between the world's two largest economies, showing little concern over Beijing's threat to impose retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.
China's targeting of USA liquefied natural gas and crude oil exports opens a new front in the trade war between the two countries, at a time when the White House is trumpeting growing United States energy export prowess.
In a separate statement, the Commerce Ministry also said Beijing reserved the right to "introduce other countermeasures", while calling its latest move rational and restrained.
President Donald Trump and his administration have repeatedly called on China to stop unfair trading practices, stop technology and intellectual property theft, and for a decrease in the USA trade deficit with the China.
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Speaking on the sidelines of a a Southeast Asian security conference also attended by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Singapore, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China's threat of retaliatory tariffs was "fully justified and necessary".
"Any unilateral threat or blackmail will only lead to intensi-fication of conflicts and damage to the interests of all parties", said the statement. "China is increasingly isolated with a weak economy", he said.
Beijing's threat comes just a day after it called for dialogue based on mutual respect.
The U.S. already imposed 25% tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in early July, with another $16 billion to be targeted in coming weeks, drawing an in-kind retaliation from China.
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In the same month, the U.S. also unveiled a list of US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods that it intends to hit with 10 per cent import duties.
In July, the United States published a list of $200bn-worth of additional products to be hit with tariffs of 10% - a figure the USA is now considering raising to 25%. Washington also wants China to stop subsidising Chinese companies with cheap loans, claiming that this allows them to compete unfairly.
"The US gas industry will be much harder hit by this as China imports only a small volume, whereas US suppliers see China as a major future market", said Lin Boqiang, professor on energy studies at Xiamen University in China.
The People's Bank of China has announced new requirements for certain types of trading in the yuan, measures that are aimed at stabilising the currency. He noted that while previous Chinese responses to threats of USA tariffs had been swift, it waited two days before responding this time.
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