Shipping containers sit at Kwai Tsing Container Port Terminals in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/ Bloomberg)

China Vows Not to Fire Tariff Shot Ahead of U.S. in Trade War

(Bloomberg) -- China said that it wouldn’t implement tariffs ahead of the U.S. on Friday, after previous arrangements put it on course to do so.

"We will never fire the first shot and will not implement tariffs ahead of the U.S.," the Ministry of Finance said in a statement late Wednesday, after media reported that Beijing would start levying tariffs hours ahead of the U.S. due to the time zone difference.

Bloomberg earlier reported that China would start applying the duties from midnight on Friday -- midday on July 5 in Washington -- according to two officials with knowledge of the plans. The Chinese customs service had adjusted their systems so the new tariffs would start being charged as soon as the clock ticks over to July 6 in Beijing, according to one of the people.

Beijing time is 12 hours ahead of Washington. A statement issued by the China’s State Council on June 16 said that retaliatory extra duties on $34 billion of U.S. imports are set to take effect on July 6.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s statement from June 15 said that Customs and Border Protection would begin collecting their additional duties from July 6. Neither nation specified a time.

In the brewing trade war between the U.S. and China, Beijing officials consistently seek to portray their nation as simply being on the defensive against Donald Trump’s aggressive tactics.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net;Yinan Zhao in Beijing at yzhao300@bloomberg.net

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Editorial Board