China says US has ‘launched the largest trade war in economic history’

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Beijing on Friday accused Washington of launching the "the largest trade war in economic history" after the US imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports at the stroke of midnight.

"The United States violated the WTO rules and launched the largest trade war in economic history to date," China’s commerce ministry said in a statement.

"This type of tariff levying is typical trade bullying, and seriously jeopardizes the security of the global industrial chain and value chain, hindering the pace of global economic recovery and triggering global market turmoil," the statement said.

China said it had already imposed retaliatory measures on US goods, moving immediately after Washington implemented tariffs on Chinese goods at the stroke of midnight.

"After the US activated its tariff measures against China, China's measures against the US took effect immediately," said Lu Kang, spokesman for the foreign ministry.

Lu declined to give precise details but the commerce ministry had previously released a list that matched Washington's $34 billion dollar for dollar.

"We never wanted to see the escalation of trade frictions into a trade war. A trade war is the last thing we want to see, because we said many times that no one will benefit from a trade war," said Lu.

"Bullying and threatening will lead to nowhere. Our position remains consistent and very clear."

China's commerce ministry earlier Friday accused the US of launching the "largest trade war in economic history," saying it could trigger "global market turmoil".

Friday's tariffs could mark the opening skirmishes of an escalating tit-for-tat trade war, as Trump has vowed to impose duties on as much as $450 billion in Chinese goods -- the vast majority of all of China's exports to the US.

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