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Trump threatens to increase tariffs on China; China calls it 'blackmail

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before their meeting on June 14 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China has called the Trump administration's threat to increase tariff rates 'blackmail.' (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration has threatened to increase the rate of its tariffs against China from 10 percent to 25 percent. China's foreign ministry called this “blackmail” and warned that policies like this would “only produce the opposite of the desired result.”

What's the story on tariffs on China?

In March, the Trump administration slapped a global tariff on all steel and aluminum imports to the United States. China retaliated with tariffs of its own, and the U.S. countered with tariffs on $34 billion in additional Chinese imports with tariffs on an additional $16 billion scheduled to take effect as soon as Wednesday.

In addition to the tariffs currently in place, the Trump administration has proposed an additional 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of imports from China. Now Trump administration officials are reportedly considering increasing those tariffs to 25 percent. The tariffs target a range of Chinese imports like dog food, furniture, car tires, beauty products, and food products, in addition to steel and aluminum.

President Donald Trump said that if China is not willing to reach an acceptable trade deal, he is prepared to slap tariffs on all Chinese imports to the U.S., which amounted to $505.5 billion last year alone.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reportedly privately discussing the possibility of reaching a trade agreement with China's Vice Premier Liu He.

What did China say?

In a news briefing, Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said

U.S. pressure and blackmail won’t have an effect. If the United States takes further escalatory steps, China will inevitably take countermeasures and we will resolutely protect our legitimate rights.

Geng also said that China has “always upheld using dialogue and consultations to handle trade frictions,” but that “unilateral threats and pressure will only produce the opposite of the desired result.”

Have these tariffs impacted American businesses at all?

Several American companies, including General Motors, Harley-Davidson, and Whirlpool, have reported significant losses, which they base at least in part on the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, or on the tariffs other nations imposed as retribution for Trump's tariffs.

The White House has extended $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers to offset a loss in their revenue. The Chamber of Commerce estimated that if every American industry were to get a bailout to make up for losses from the tariffs at the same rate as the farmers, it would cost taxpayers an additional $27.2 billion.

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