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China is America's largest trading partner, and Mr. Trump points to America's trade deficit of about $375 billion as a sign that the trade relationship is unbalanced.

That measure had not targeted Chinese imports alone. The Treasury Department will also propose additional measures. After Trump's announcement, China's Commerce Ministry said it was proposing tariffs on 128 United States products including pork, wine and seamless steel tubes.

The administration's calculation seems to be that China will back down on intellectual property theft if faced with less access to US markets.

"This is number one, but it's the first of many", Donald Trump said.

60 days to safeguard technologies the US views as strategic. "We are confident in our capability to face up to any challenge", the Commerce Ministry said.

"The American and Chinese governments should resolve existing trade frictions in a way that averts a trade war and promotes open markets and fair economic exchange", said AmCham Shanghai President Kenneth Jarrett".

Senator Sherrod Brown welcomed the news that the Trump administration is taking steps to launch crackdown on China's violation of intellectual property laws.

"People like me have been warning about China's unfair trade practices and their rivalry with us, but we've been kind of demonized over the last 20 years", said Pillsbury.

Thursday's announcement marked the end of a seven-month investigation into the hardball tactics China has used to challenge USA supremacy in technology, including, the US says, dispatching hackers to steal commercial secrets and demanding that US companies hand over trade secrets in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

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According to a statement from the government, the tariffs would apply to about $3 billion of goods annually. They said the figure was based on a calculation of the impact on the profits of USA companies that had been forced to hand over intellectual property as the price of doing business in China.

It was meant for a world in which large swaths of global commerce were not covered by trade agreements as a way to open markets to US goods, Chad Brown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote in a recent blog.

Saying it would be the "first of many" trade actions, Trump said the measure was aimed at punishing Beijing over the alleged theft of United States technology and Chinese pressure on American companies to hand it over.

"We have repeatedly told the USA side that steel and aluminum imports from its ally Japan will not adversely affect America's national security, and that Japan should be excluded", said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Trump's sanctions will not be without ramifications however, with President Xi's China expected to retaliate strongly. "American business wants to see solutions to these problems, not just sanctions such as unilateral tariffs that may do more harm than good", said John Frisbie, president of the US-China Business Council. That said, there is a risk of a mounting cycle of retaliation.

It's unclear how the regulations will affect the U.S. However, representatives on Capitol Hill maintain a positive outlook, and are standing firmly behind the president and U.S. workers.

"China does not want a trade war with anyone", the Chinese embassy in Washington DC said in a statement Thursday.

"Each of them has the capacity to do a good contribution to global trade, said Kennedy, "(and) each has a capacity to make it sour, to make it less effective". "This could disrupt global supply chains and damage investor sentiment", said Dario Perkins, head of global macroeconomics research at TS Lombard, a London-based economic consultancy.

In a separate and potentially bigger dispute, the ministry criticized Trump's decision Thursday to approve a possible tariff hike on Chinese imports worth up to $60 billion over Beijing's technology policy.

The new order saw a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium. The White House then declared a temporary exemption for the European Union and other nations on those levies, making the focus on China clear.



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