Ahead of Ross visit, US group calls on China to open markets

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The China Daily newspaper said the repeated USA claim that China had forced foreign firms to transfer their technologies to Chinese businesses was without evidence and was being used as an excuse to facilitate its trade protectionism.

In retaliation, China announced plans to impose new tariffs of 25 per cent worth Dollars 50 billion on 106 American products including items like soybeans which could hurt American farmers.

Trade talks between the two countries will continue, the statement said, and the United States has asked Beijing to remove "all of its many trade barriers" that prevent American companies from doing business in China, and has also said that "tariffs and taxes between the two countries be reciprocal in nature and value".

"China's attitude, as always, is: we do not want to fight, but we are also not afraid to fight", it said in the commentary by Xinhua reporter Yu Jiaxin.

"President Trump has taken long overdue action to finally address the source of the problem, China's unfair trade practices that hurt America's workers and our innovative industries", the White House said.

The list of goods subject to the tariff will be complete by June 15.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is set to travel to Beijing at the weekend amid growing tensions.

"I wouldn't say we are in favor of, specifically, export controls, investment restrictions", Zarit said at a news conference.

The White House also said it plans to announce new measures to restrict Chinese investment "related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology" by 30 June.

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In recent days, the ZTE case has become even more central to the trade conflict, as the company reportedly removed two senior executives from their posts as concessions for the USA, and President Xi Jinping has continued his calls for technological self-reliance.

"Conflicting messages coming from the administration is causing whiplash for American companies that are focused on growing the economy and creating jobs here at home", the Virginia-based Retail Industry Leaders Association said in an e-mailed statement.

China accounts for the bulk of global production of numerous goods covered by Wednesday's tariff cuts.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China said companies are uneasy about the threat of export and investment controls but see them as a possible way to make progress on longstanding complaints about market access and investment curbs.

"The United States will request that China remove all of its many trade barriers, including non-monetary trade barriers, which make it both hard and unfair to do business there".

China's commerce ministry said in a statement released hours after Trump's announcement that the move "clearly contradicts the consensus reached by China and the USA in Washington recently".

The announcement is another apparent change of course for Trump, who veers from harsh threats to promises of compromise and back again on trade and other sensitive issues. "The tariffs and the other stuff are totally discretionary and can be waived", said Jeff Moon, a former USA trade negotiator.

The White House said the policies included forced technology transfer; requiring licensing at less than economic value; state-directed acquisition of sensitive USA technology for strategic purposes; and outright cybertheft.

This latest trade escalation comes after the two sides had agreed during talks in Washington in May to find ways of narrowing China's $375 billion trade surplus.