China fully ready to defend interests in trade war: Commerce ministry

Chinese Commerce Ministry said that China had demonstrated its sincerity in the ultimate form by sending its trade delegation to the US despite Washington's tariff threats.
Chinese Commerce Ministry said that China had demonstrated its sincerity in the ultimate form by sending its trade delegation to the US despite Washington's tariff threats.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China is fully prepared to defend its interests in its trade war with the United States, but hopes the US can resolve problems through dialogue instead of unilateral steps, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said on Thursday (May 9).

China has the determination and capacity to defend its interests, but hopes the US can meet it halfway, Mr Gao Feng, the ministry's spokesman, told reporters.

Vice-Premier Liu He is heading a delegation set to hold talks with US counterparts in Washington on Thursday and Friday aimed at salvaging a deal, after President Donald Trump threatened to hike tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.

China opposes unilaterally imposed tariffs, and will not succumb to any pressure, Mr Gao said.

The US Trade Representative's office said tariffs on US$200 billion (S$272 billion) of Chinese goods would rise to 25 per cent from 10 per cent at 12.01am on Friday.

These include chemicals, building materials, furniture and some consumer electronics.

The US tariff action would come in the middle of meetings between Mr Liu and Mr Trump's top trade officials in Washington.

 
 
 

Expectations were recently riding high for a deal to be reached, but a deep rift opened up last weekend over the language of the proposed pact.

Reaching a deal requires effort from both sides, Mr Gao said, adding that China had demonstrated its sincerity in the ultimate form by sending its trade delegation to the US despite Washington's tariff threats.

The world's two largest economies have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war since July 2018 over US demands that the Asian powerhouse adopt policy changes that would, among other things, better protect American intellectual property and make China's market more accessible to US companies.

Mr Trump also threatened on Sunday to levy tariffs on an additional US$325 billion of China's goods, on top of the US$250 billion of its products already hit by import taxes.