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Trade tensions

US-China trade war back on as Trump revives 25% tariffs

White House takes aim at 'Made in China 2025' ahead of Ross visit

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left, will visit Beijing at the end of this week for a third round of trade talks.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- After declaring the trade war "on hold," U.S. President Donald Trump's administration says it will proceed with tariffs against Chinese goods as he tries to gain leverage in talks with Beijing.

The final list of targeted goods will be announced by June 15, with the tariffs imposed "shortly thereafter," the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

A 25% tariff will be imposed on $50 billion in imported Chinese goods containing "industrially significant technology," the statement said. The scope includes items under the "Made in China 2025" program, an initiative by which China seeks to build up domestic manufacturing in areas like semiconductors.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to visit China from Saturday to Monday for the third round of trade talks. The tariff announcement also comes as the U.S. prepares for a high-stakes meeting in Singapore between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose regime counts China as its most important backer.

The White House originally said in April that it would impose a 25% tariff on about 1,300 goods as punishment for China's intellectual property practices.

Beijing and Washington agreed to increase U.S. exports of agricultural products and energy during their second round of trade talks in mid-May. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin went on to say that the trade war was "on hold," shelving the tariffs for the time being.

But Trump likely chose to reapply pressure given unsatisfactory progress in the negotiations. China opposes committing to a numerical target for reducing its trade deficit with the U.S., which Trump seeks to lower by $200 billion.

Beijing has responded to the latest developments through state media.

"China's attitude, as always, is: we do not want to fight, but we are also not afraid to fight," wrote Xinhua reporter Yu Jiaxin in a commentary piece. "China will continue to hold pragmatic consultations with the United States' delegation and hope that the United States will act in accordance with the spirit of the joint statement."

"The Chinese government will have the necessary measures in place to deal with a U.S. withdrawal from any settled agreement," said the Global Times, a tabloid run by the Communist Party's official paper the People's Daily. "If the U.S. wants to play games, then China would be more than willing to play along and do so until the very end," it said.

Nikkei staff writer Masayuki Yuda contributed to this story.

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