China said Sunday that it will not initiate a trade war with the United States, but vowed to defend its national interests in the face of growing American protectionism, AP reports.
“There are no winners in a trade war, and it would bring disaster to our two countries as well as the rest of the world,” Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said at a briefing on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary session.
“China does not wish to fight a trade war, nor will China initiate a trade war, but we can handle any challenge and will resolutely defend the interests of our country and our people,” he said.
It was Beijing’s latest response to President Donald Trump’s plan to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The U.S. leader said Thursday that he was slapping tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, temporarily exempting big steel producers Canada and Mexico.
Chinese leaders have threatened in the past to retaliate against raised trade barriers, but have yet to take direct action following Trump’s announcement.
Zhong also said the U.S. has been overstating its trade deficit with China by about 20 percent every year. He blamed the trade imbalance in part on controls over U.S. high-tech exports to China.
China’s trade surplus with the United States in February was $20.9 billion.
The Trump administration earlier approved higher tariffs on Chinese-made washing machines, solar modules and some other goods, prompting Beijing to accuse Washington of disrupting global trade regulation by taking action under U.S. law instead of through the World Trade Organization.