US proposes tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration today escalated its aggressive approach to trade by proposing 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports to protest Beijing's alleged theft of American technology.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a list targeting 1,300 Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecommunications equipment. The suggested tariffs wouldn't take effect right way: A public comment period ends May 11, and a hearing on the tariffs is scheduled for May 15. Companies and consumers will have the opportunity to lobby to have some products taken off the list or have others added.

The move risks heightening trade tensions with China, which on Monday slapped taxes on $3 billion in U.S. products in response to earlier U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Tonight, the Chinese embassy in Washington issued a statement saying it "strongly condemns" the move: "It serves neither China's interest, nor the U.S. interest, even less the interest of the global economy."

China is likely to retaliate against the new tariffs, which target the technology and advanced manufacturing industries that Beijing is nurturing. The sanctions are designed to punish China for using strong-arm tactics in its drive to become a global technology power.

These include pressuring American companies to share technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market, forcing U.S. firms to license their technology in China on unfavorable terms and even hacking into U.S. companies' computers to steal trade secrets.

The administration sought to draw up the list in a way that limits the impact of the tariffs – a tax on imports – on American consumers while hitting Chinese imports that benefit from Beijing's sharp-elbowed tech policies. But some critics that American will end up being hurt.

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