Tensions between the U.S. and China rose again Thursday evening as President Donald Trump threatened a fresh round of tariffs on Chinese goods in response to China’s retaliation Wednesday.
"In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the [United States Trade Representative] to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate," the president said in a statement.
Trump announced tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods earlier this week, to which China responded in kind, placing tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. exports.
The president’s suggestion of additional tariffs continues and escalates the tit-for-tat responses by both countries.
The Chinese government responded by reiterating that it doesn't want "to fight a trade war, but we are not afraid of fighting it."
"If the United States disregards the opposition of China and the international community, and insists on unilateralist and protectionist trade practices, the Chinese side will follow through to the end and will not hesitate to fight back at any cost," the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement Friday. "We will take new comprehensive measures to respond and resolutely defend the interests of the country and the people."
White House officials have reassured spooked investors that a trade war is not imminent and the current back-and-forth between the U.S. and China is essentially posturing.
But plenty of people are alarmed by and disagree with the method Trump has chosen to address the issue:
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse called the move "the dumbest possible way to do this."
"Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he's even half-serious, this is nuts," he said in a statement.
"China is guilty of many things, but the President has no actual plan to win right now. He's threatening to light American agriculture on fire," Sasse added.
US retailers also slammed Trump's announcement, accusing him of "playing a game of chicken with the nation's economy."
The National Retail Federation, an industry group, said in a statement that while it agreed on the need to address China's unfair trade practices, "these tit-for-tat trade actions could ... make it harder for Americans across the country to afford everyday products and basic necessities."