China warns against blackmail as Donald Trump considers higher tariffs

China warned the U.S. against “blackmailing” Beijing amid reports Wednesday that President Trump is considering higher tariffs to force the Chinese back into trade negotiations.

“If the U.S. takes measures to further escalate the situation, we will surely take countermeasures to uphold our legitimate rights and interests,” said Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, at a regular press conference.

The administration is considering more than doubling planned tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, people familiar with the deliberations told Bloomberg. The threatened tariffs of 10 percent could rise to 25 percent on thousands of products, including food, chemicals, steel and aluminum, furniture, tires, bicycles and beauty products.

The duties, initially announced last month, would not be imposed until after a period of public comment.

China already has retaliated with tariffs, hitting U.S. farm products in particular. At a campaign rally in Florida Tuesday night, Mr. Trump said China’s response targeting U.S. farmers has been “not nice.”

“Our farmers are true patriots. And you know what our farmers are saying? ‘It’s OK, we can take it’ — these are incredible people,” the president said.

The administration announced last month it will provide up to $12 billion in relief for farmers who are losing money due to the trade battles.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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