China has indicated that it might curb sales of rare earth minerals to the United States as the trade fight between the two countries escalated.

The trade fight escalated sharply on Aug. 5 after the Trump administration branded Beijing a currency manipulator for the first time since 1994, and said it would impose 10 percent tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports, starting on Sept. 1.

The Chinese rare earths association responded, saying it would support countermeasures in the escalating trade dispute with the United States and accused Washington of using “trade bullying behavior” to suppress China’s development.

The Association of China Rare Earth Industry issued a statement after a special working meeting to discuss the “guidance” given by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to a rare earth plant in Jiangxi in May.

Reuters reported that Xi’s visit stoked fears China would use its dominance over production of rare earths in the escalating trade war, although no restrictions on supplies have so far been announced.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would impose further tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods, although a previous lists avoided rare earths, for which the United States relies heavily on China.

The Chinese association rarely comments on the trade war and made no mention of export restrictions, but said all attendees at the meeting agreed that U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods were aimed at suppressing China’s development and amounted to unilateralism, protectionism and “trade bullying behavior.”

“We express our firm opposition,” it said, adding that Chinese rare earth companies should actively expand overseas markets, as well as the domestic market.

“The cost of tariffs imposed by the United States should be borne by the U.S. market and consumers,” the association said.

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