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China accuses US of 'launching the biggest trade war in economic history'

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China has accused the United States of "launching the biggest trade war in economic history" as the two economic giants slapped massive duties on each other's exports.

The Trump administration on Friday started to impose 25 percent tariffs on about $34 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics and high-tech equipment including autos, computer hard drives and LEDs.

Beijing retaliated immediately by imposing a similar 25 percent tariff on 545 US products, also worth a total of $34 billion.

Speaking at Friday's press conference, spokesman for Chinese foreign ministry Lu Kang said, "The US side's tariff measures apparently violated the laws of the World Trade Organization and would cause turbulence in the global markets."

"The Chinese side opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism in any form and commits to properly handling differences and problems in the process of globalization."

"The Chinese side will not surrender to pressure from the US side. We will strike back when our legitimate rights are violated," he added.

Chinese commerce ministry also issued a statement on Friday, saying "the US has launched the biggest trade war in economic history."

"The Chinese side has said it will not fire the first shot, but will strike back to safeguard core national interests and the interests of its people when necessary."

It also accused the United States of "typical trade bullying", saying the US tariffs will "seriously jeopardize the global industrial chain, hinder the pace of global economic recovery, trigger global market turmoil and affect more innocent multinational companies, general companies and consumers."

The ministry concluded by saying it would "look to report the US to the World Trade Organization" on Friday for Washington's breaching of international trade laws.

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