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China to target US soybeans in tariff retaliation, China state media editor says

American soybeans will be targeted as part of Chinese retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump's potential tariffs on imports from Beijing, an editor of Chinese state-backed English language newspaper Global Times said.

"I'm sure if Trump imposes high tariffs on imported products from China, the backlash will first come to American soybeans worth over $10 billion sold to China every year. This is no casual comment. Please read tomorrow's Global Times for further information," Hu Xijin, who writes the publication's editorials, said on Twitter.

Global Times operates under the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist Party. Hu's editorials are often viewed as reflections of policy positions under consideration by Beijing, the Financial Times noted.

The Trump administration is planning to announce up to $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports by March 23, targeting intellectual property, technology and telecommunications.

The looming tariffs on Chinese imports would follow those recently imposed by the U.S. on global steel and aluminum imports, which fueled fears of a trade war amid retaliation and reaction from China and other countries.

Fearing China's retaliation against U.S. soybeans, the American Soybean Association, or ASA, has sought a meeting with Trump and urged him to reverse or modify his tariff decision.

"The importance of the China market in sustaining our livelihoods and our industry's role in the Nation's agricultural and rural economy cannot be overstated," ASA President John Heisdorffer said in a recent letter to Trump.

In 2017, China imported 1.4 billion bushels of soybeans from the U.S., accounting for 61% of total exports, according to the ASA.

A Global Times op-ed from March 14 regarding the U.S. tariffs suggested that Beijing should not back down in the event of a trade war against Washington.

"China has to brace for trade wars both in strategy and mentality. Beijing needs to give Washington head-on blows in a similar manner and must not be soft," the publication's editorial read.

"Once a trade war starts, capable countries won't bow to the US. China has tried hard to avoid a trade war, but if one breaks out, appeasement is not an option," the editorial added.