In this July 6, 2018, photo, a container ship is docked at a port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province. China’s government on
In this July 6, 2018, photo, a container ship is docked at a port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province. China's government on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, has criticized the latest U.S. threat of a tariff hike as "totally unacceptable" and vowed to retaliate in their escalating trade war. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING (AP) -- China slammed the latest U.S. tariff threat as a "totally unacceptable" escalation of their trade battle and vowed Wednesday to protect its "core interests."

The Commerce Ministry gave no details of possible retaliation but Beijing earlier threatened "comprehensive measures." That prompted fears it might go beyond matching Washington's duty increases by disrupting operations for U.S. companies in China.

The spiraling conflict over U.S. complaints about Chinese technology policy has prompted warnings it might chill global economic growth. Washington accuses Beijing of stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology and worries plans for state-led development of Chinese champions in robots and other fields might erode American industrial leadership.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Trade Representative's office announced a $200 billion list of Chinese goods for possible 10 percent tariffs including fish, apples and burglar alarms. It said that was in response to Beijing's failure to change its policies and to retaliate for last week's U.S. tariff hike by increasing its own duties on American goods.

"It is totally unacceptable for American side to publish a tariff list in a way that is accelerating and escalating," said a Commerce Ministry statement. "To protect the core interests of the nation and its people, the Chinese government will be forced to impose necessary countermeasures."

On Friday, Washington imposed additional 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of imports from China including medical equipment, electronics and factory machinery.


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Beijing responded by imposing similar charges on the same amount of American imports including soybeans and orange juice.

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Chinese Ministry of Commerce (in Chinese): www.mofcom.gov.cn