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New Trump tariffs take direct aim at Chinese trade policy in fight over U.S. tech secrets

President Trump broadened his economic war with China, announcing a second wave of tariffs that may total up to $60 billion worth of Chinese imports, as well as restrictions on Chinese investments in U.S. tech firms. The president argues it's punishment for alleged efforts at violating U.S. intellectual property. China has threatened to impose tariffs of its own. William Brangham reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A broadside today from President Trump aimed at China and its trade policies. He authorized sweeping new tariffs on imports, amid warnings that this opening salvo could turn into a full-on trade war.

    William Brangham begins our coverage.

  • President Donald Trump:

    This is the first of many. This is number one, but this is the first of many.

  • William Brangham:

    These latest tariffs directly target Beijing and may total up to $60 billion. That's about 10 percent of all Chinese imports to the United States.

    The president also announced restrictions on Chinese investments in U.S. technology firms. He said the U.S. would also sue China at the World Trade organization for breaking trade laws.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The word is reciprocal. That's the word I want everyone to remember. We want reciprocal, mirror. Some people call it a mirror tariff or a mirror tax. Just use the word reciprocal.

    If they charge us, we charge them the same thing. That's the way it's got to be.

  • William Brangham:

    The president argues this is punishment for Beijing's alleged efforts at violating U.S. intellectual property rights. The tariffs are the first time the administration has directly targeted China with trade sanctions.

    While earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum, which take effect Friday, were meant to curb Chinese overproduction, they also affected other nations as well. The administration temporarily exempted several American allies from those tariffs.

    China has often said it wants to avoid a trade war, but warned it would hit back if necessary.

  • Hua Chunying:

    China will by no means tolerate any harm to our legitimate rights and interests, and we will definitely take all necessary measures to defend our rights and interests.

  • William Brangham:

    China has threatened to impose tariffs of its own on U.S. agricultural exports, particularly soybeans, which is a $14 billion-a-year business. Aircraft makers like Boeing could also be vulnerable. It is the largest U.S. exporter, and China is its biggest customer.

    The Chinese could choose to order more from European competitors like Airbus. On Sunday, dozens of business and trade groups sent a letter to the president voicing concerns that he could trigger a trade war with China.

    And, today, Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch also criticized the president's move.

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.:

    I am deeply disappointed in the decision to impose global tariffs to address a problem caused by China. Tariffs are taxes. So I am concerned about the harm that this action would impose on American manufacturers and families.

  • William Brangham:

    Still, the president found support in unlikely places. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer applauded the tariffs.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    I'm very pleased that this administration is taking strong action to get a better deal on China, because China has stolen and extorted the intellectual property of American companies for years without repercussion. Our intellectual property are our family jewels.

  • William Brangham:

    The list of Chinese products that fall under these tariffs will be made available in 15 days. Until then, all eyes are on how China might respond.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And William will be back with a deeper dive on all of this right after the news summary.

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