China blasts new US tariff threat as 'blackmail'

President Donald Trump gestures as he signs a "Space Policy Directive" during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, Monday, June 18, 2018, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence watches. AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

BEIJING (AP) — China's government on Tuesday denounced President Donald Trump's threat of new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods as blackmail and warned it would respond with "strong countermeasures."

Trump ordered the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday to prepare new tariffs on Chinese goods, escalating a dispute over Beijing's technology policy that companies and investors worry could drag down global trade and economic growth.

The Commerce Ministry warned said Beijing is ready to "defend the interests of the Chinese people and enterprises" but gave no details.

"This practice of extreme pressure and blackmail deviates from the consensus reached by two parties through many negotiations, and it also disappointed the international community," said the forcefully worded statement.

"If the U.S. side becomes irrational and issues the list, China will have to adopt measures that are comprehensive measures in quantity and quality in order to make strong countermeasures."

On Saturday, Beijing announced it was imposing 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of U.S. imports including soybeans and beef effective July 6 in response to Trump's tariff hike on a similar amount of Chinese goods.

It also said it was scrapping deals made with Washington to narrow China's politically volatile trade surplus with the United States by purchasing more American farm goods, natural gas and other products.

The United States and China have the world's biggest trading relationship but official ties are increasingly strained over complaints Beijing's industry development tactics violate its free-trade pledges and hurt American companies.

Europe, Japan and other trading partners raise similar complaints, but Trump has been unusually direct about challenging Beijing and threatening to disrupt such a large volume of exports.