China said Thursday that it would not impose tariffs on imports before the United States does first, urging other countries to jointly respond. The move is seen as Beijing’s postponement of the timing of its tariff imposition on U.S. imports before Washington does due to the 12-hour time difference, ahead of the planned mutual imposition of 25 percent tariffs.
“China will never fire the first shot,” Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a news briefing. “However, if the United States adopts taxation measures, China will be forced to fight back to defend the core interests of the nation and the interests of the people.”
“The U.S. tariff move is in essence a hit to the global industry and value chain. To put it simply, the United States is firing at the whole world. It is also firing at itself,” the spokesman added, urging other countries to act together with China to defend the common interest of the people around the world.
China's’customs department also said in a statement on Thursday that China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods will take effect immediately after U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports kick in. Beijing will likely act after watching the situation until Friday noon (00:00 a.m. on Friday, U.S. Eastern Standaard Time), when the United States is scheduled to start imposing tariffs on Chinese imports.
Earlier in the day, the Chinese government and state-run media claimed that news reports that Beijing would impose high tariffs on U.S. goods, starting Friday noon, Chinese time, were “mere speculations.”
The U.S. daily Wall Street Journal quoted a Chinse official as saying that it is “rare” for China to start imposing tariffs at noon and reported that Beijing scrapped its plan to hit the United States first.
Wan-Jun Yun firstname.lastname@example.org