WASHINGTON: The Trump administration plans to raise pending tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25 per cent, much higher than the 10 per cent it previously indicated it might impose, the media reported.
The tougher proposal could be announced as early as Wednesday, according to the US media. The move would risk further escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing which are already mired in a trade war. Talks between both the sides have done little to ease tensions.
In response, the Chinese government on Wednesday said that "the blackmail and pressure Washington tries to exert with threats of export tariffs will not work".
"Blackmail and pressurizing by the US will never work for China and if they take measures to further escalate the situation we will surely take countermeasures to firmly uphold our legitimate rights and interests," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.
"The Chinese side always believes that trade disputes must be resolved through talks and negotiations and our sincerity and efforts are there for the international community to see," he added.
In early July, the US imposed 25 per cent tariffs on an initial $34 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing immediately responded with its own tariffs on equal amount of US goods.
A second round of tariffs on products worth $16 billion could take effect as soon as this week, CNN reported.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer ratcheted up tensions last month when he released a list of thousands of additional Chinese exports worth $200 billion that could face 10 per cent tariffs after a public comment period.
It included fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, rain jackets and baseball gloves. The tariffs, which might now be steeper, could go into effect as soon as September.
Washington accuses Beijing of intellectual copyright theft and wants to bring down its lofty trade deficit with the world's second largest economy.
But the trade dispute is also seen as part of a broader tug of war between the two powerhouses for influence on the world stage.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a plan to spend $113 million in Asia, a move that was widely seen as an attempt to counter China's growing influence in the region.
According to investors, the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing can hit global growth and several US business groups criticised Trump's aggressive tariffs.