In an about-face, the White House on Tuesday announced that it would implement a proposal to set a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of goods imported from China.
The administration of President Donald Trump also said that it would impose measures to limit Chinese investment in the U.S. technology sector.
“To protect our national security, the United States will implement specific investment restrictions and enhanced export controls for Chinese persons and entities related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology,” the White House said in a statement.
The Trump administration said that details of the tariffs and investment restrictions will be announced by the end of June and the proposal will be implemented “shortly thereafter”.
The announcement comes a little more than a week after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said proposals that could spark a trade war with China were momentarily put on hold.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to meet with Chinese trade officials in Beijing over the weekend.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry released a statement Tuesday saying that it was surprised by the sudden tariff announcement.
“No matter what measures the United States takes, China has the confidence, ability and experience to safeguard the interests of the Chinese people and the country’s core interests,” the statement said. “China urges the United States to act in accordance with the spirit of the joint statement.”
On the day of the tariff announcement and amid political chaos in Italy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about 392 points, losing about 1.6 percent.
By Barry Eitel in San Francisco