China’s commerce ministry losing staff as trade war rages

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BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese commerce ministry is seeing a “serious” churn in staffing, partly due to low salaries, state-backed tabloid Global Times reported, citing recent inspections by the country’s anti-graft watchdog.

The report on staff turnover comes as China’s trade war with the United States grows increasingly acrimonious, with little sign of compromise.

Over three months, Beijing has announced plans to impose tariffs on about $110 billion of U.S. imports, some of which were implemented last month.

Checks at the commerce ministry by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) have identified problems in recruitment and sustaining talent, said the Global Times, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily.

Daily supervision has been “weak” and turnover “serious”, the tabloid reported late on Tuesday, citing a notice from the CCDI.

The inspections were part of wider CCDI checks at other government agencies and eight state-owned companies.

The ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

The Global Times made no reference to the Sino-U.S. trade war.

Washington said on Tuesday that it is set to begin collecting 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods on Aug. 23. The Chinese commerce ministry has not yet given a date for its previously announced retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. move.

The latest list brings the total Chinese imports that face a 25 percent tariff to about $50 billion.

President Donald Trump has also threatened similar duties on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and possibly more, in his administration’s quest for changes to China’s intellectual property, market access and industrial subsidy policies.

“We are always on standby and often work overtime,” the Global Times reported, citing a commerce ministry staff member whom it did not identify.

Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill

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