Chinese cyber spies pose challenge for Trump admin

A man chooses bananas near imported apples from the United States at a supermarket in Beijing on Monday

A third of U.S. soybean exports go to China, totalling $14 billion a year ago, and the product comes from rural states that voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

The latest round of tariff threats is in addition to the recently imposed 25 percent tariffs on Chinese steel and 10 percent on aluminium.

Chinese officials said they were obliged to act after the USA announced plans for retaliatory tariffs in an escalating dispute over China's technology program and other trade issues.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China could "afford" the impact of the U.S. measures, and attempts to "subdue China through pressure or intimidation wasn't successful in history and won't be today".

Trump launches a second government probe, explicitly targeted at China. "We must address China's theft of technology and intellectual property", said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), "but we can't harm USA businesses and workers". "It's relatively proportionate to the tariffs we put on based on the intellectual property".

Trump has decided this course of action even though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers opposed it. "Our action is restrained".

However, experts warn that 2018 could be a different story, calling a trade war between the two gargantuan economies increasingly likely.

Asked by reporters outside the White House whether the United States could lose a trade war, Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said, "No".

China expresses "strong dissatisfaction" over the decision, adding that it "aggravates the global trade environment".

Porter said that FireEye, which monitors more than two-dozen groups linked to the Chinese government, has observed espionage activity continue against US firms, including those producing sensitive military technology like satellite navigation systems and semiconductors. The administration later exempted the EU, Canada, Mexico and four other economies from the duties.

The new tariffs mark a 25% tax increase on USA goods, although Chinese officials have yet to set a date for implementation, basically allowing for the ball to rest in the US president's court.

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Hours earlier, the United States government unveiled a detailed breakdown of some 1,300 Chinese industrial, transport and medical goods that could be subject to 25% duties, ranging from light-emitting diodes to machine parts.

In a morning tweet, President Donald on Wednesday pointed to "a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion" a year with China, adding that intellectual property theft by Chinese companies costs the U.S.

As it stands, China is more vulnerable than the USA, says Katsoras.

The highest profile corporate casualty was South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, which saw its plans for mega shopping complexes indefinitely suspended and almost all of its Lotte Mart stores in China shut for much of the year over alleged fire safety issues.

Trump's next set of potential tariffs comes barely 24 hours after China's first retaliation.

This list, which targets imports representing approximately $50 billion, targets products from various sectors including aeronautics, information and communication technologies, and robotics and machinery.

Beijing had repeatedly said it did not fear a trade war with the USA but that it would prefer dialogue to prevent such an outcome. "But we are not afraid of it, and we will resolutely fight to the end if someone insists on a war".

Shares in USA exporters of everything from food to planes were hammered on Wednesday after China retaliated against the Trump administration's tariff plans with a list of duties on key US imports including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals. In 2016, 62% of US soybean exports-representing 33 million tonnes-and 77% of USA sorghum exports went to China.

The proposed tariffs could also affect Ford Motor Co's (F.N) plans to shift production of the compact Focus next year from Mexico to China.

Oil prices fell hard early on, but later recovered.

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