With Beijing rapidly running out of US imports to slap tariffs on, the Chinese government indicated on Thursday that it wouldn’t immediately retaliate against the latest US tariff escalation announced by President Trump a week ago, Bloomberg reports. Instead, it will be looking for ways to finally deescalate the trade conflict, which has dragged on for nearly 18 months.
The burst of optimistic rhetoric on both sides has helped lift stocks, with S&P 500 futures reversing earlier losses to rise as much as 0.7%.
But does this mean the trade war is over, and that Beijing will finally come to the table in earnest, ready to make the concessions that Washington demands? That's doubtful.
They just need a little more time to devise a plan for exactly how they will retaliate. As we've mentioned in the past, Beijing has many alternatives, including ceasing purchases of Treasuries.
Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said during a regular briefing in Beijing that China has options to retaliate, but thinks it should discuss with Washington the possibility of removing new tariffs.
"The most important thing at the moment is to create necessary conditions for both sides to continue negotiations," Gao said during a weekly briefing, adding that China was lodging "solemn representation" with the US.
However, Gao warned that China had "ample" retaliatory measures to retaliate if Washington eventually moved ahead with its tariffs.
Earlier this month, the US announced new tariff rates on $300 billion of Chinese goods that will come into effect in September and December. Beijing then retaliated last week, announcing its own higher import taxes.
Beijing said the hopes for progress depend on whether Washington can create "favorable conditions" for the upcoming talks in September, according to Reuters.