Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to help hard-hit American farmers caught in the middle of the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.
China on Monday hit back against the United States, announcing it will sharply increase duties on thousands of US agricultural and manufactured goods to retaliate against Trump's decision last week to more than double the punitive duties on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese merchandise.
"Our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of what is happening now," Trump said on Twitter.
"Hopefully China will do us the honor of continuing to buy our great farm product, the best, but if not your Country will be making up the difference based on a very high China buy."
Since last year, the trade war has gutted US farm exports to China and weighed on both countries' manufacturing sectors.
The Trump administration last year offered $12 billion in compensation to American farmers and has vowed to do more, using the revenues from the new tariffs -- which he incorrectly claims is paid by China rather than US importers.
"This money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us. The Farmers have been 'forgotten' for many years. Their time is now!"
Trump launched the trade war last year to extract profound economic reforms from Beijing and reduce the US trade deficit. He accused China of seeking to dominant global industries through massive state subsidies and theft of American technology -- in violation of its commitments upon joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.
The United States and China have so far exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade.
Trump also is considering extending tariffs to virtually everything American companies import from China, which economists warn would spill over into the global economy and US industries say would be catastrophic.
The US Trade Representative office announced the start of a process to impose new duties on another $300 billion worth of Chinese merchandise, with a hearing scheduled for June 17.
Trump said Monday he had not decided whether he would ultimately impose those levies.