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China imports from US plunge 31 percent in June amid tariff war

Containers were piled up at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China's imports from the United States plunged 31.4 percent in June from a year earlier amid a tariff war with Washington.
Containers were piled up at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China's imports from the United States plunged 31.4 percent in June from a year earlier amid a tariff war with Washington.(Chinatopix via Associated Press/File)

BEIJING — China’s trade with the United States plunged last month as a tariff war battered exporters on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

And there’s no letup in sight: Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies continue to simmer even though President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, called a ceasefire two weeks ago.

Data out Friday showed that the hostilities are taking a toll.

Chinese imports of US goods fell 31.4 percent from a year earlier to $9.4 billion, while exports to the American market declined 7.8 percent to $39.3 billion, according to Chinese customs data. China’s trade surplus with the United States widened by 3 percent to $29.9 billion.

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The two countries are fighting over US allegations that China deploys predatory tactics — including stealing trade secrets and forcing foreign firms to hand over technology — in a headlong drive to challenge American technological dominance.

The US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports, drawing retaliatory sanctions from Beijing on $110 billion in US products. China also directed importers to find non-US suppliers.

The dispute won’t be easy to solve. Mistrust between Washington and Beijing runs high. And a substantive solution likely would require China to scale back its ambitions to become a world leader in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and electric cars.

ASSOCIATED PRESS