China against escalation of trade war with the US, says vice-premier Liu He

 In this photo taken on Nov 8, 2017, US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping attend a business leaders event inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In this photo taken on Nov 8, 2017, US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping attend a business leaders event inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - China is firmly against escalating the trade war with the United States, and instead wants to resolve issues through calm negotiations, its top trade negotiator Liu He has said.

But the Foreign Ministry on Monday hit out at US President Donald Trump's threat to order US companies to leave China, calling it a "political slogan".

The comments followed the latest round of tit-for-tat moves by both countries.

On Friday, Beijing announced that it would slap additional tariffs of 5 or 10 per cent on US$75 billion (S$110 billion) worth of US imports, in response to Mr Trump's earlier decision to impose 10 per cent tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese goods. Both measures would go into effect in two batches, on Sept 1 and Dec 15.

The Chinese retaliation led Mr Trump to declare angrily on Twitter that the US$300 billion in Chinese imports would face a 15 per cent levy instead.

The tariff rate on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports would also go up from 25 to 30 per cent from Oct 1.

On Monday, vice-premier Liu, who is the top economic adviser of President Xi Jinping, said that escalating the trade war was neither in the interests of the US, China, nor the world.

"We are willing to resolve the issue through consultations and cooperation in a calm attitude and resolutely oppose the escalation of the trade war," he said at a technology conference in the south-western city of Chongqing.

In a tweet, Mr Trump had also raised the possibility of getting US firms to leave China, although he has since appeared to back off on this threat.

 
 
 
 

On Monday, Mr Liu said: "We welcome enterprises from all over the world, including the United States, to invest and operate in China."

He said: "We will continue to create a good investment environment, protect intellectual property rights, promote the development of smart intelligent industries with our market open, resolutely oppose technological blockades and protectionism, and strive to protect the completeness of the supply chain."

Separately, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denounced Mr Trump's threat, saying that it was "more like a political slogan, than a pragmatic move".

"Even if it happens, there will naturally be others to fill in the gaps, and the US will be harmed in the end," he said.

He added that decoupling the Chinese and American economies was not a good way to ease trade tensions, nor solve the domestic issues in the US.

"We advise the US to heed the advice from various stakeholders, count the pros and cons and not be driven by emotions," said Mr Geng.