BRUSSELS (AFP) - China on Friday (April 6) called on the European Union to take a joint stand against US protectionism as the tit-for-tat trade rift between Washington and Beijing threatened to entangle Europe.
The call to Brussels came as US President Donald Trump warned that he could slap another US$100 billion (S$132 billion) of extra tariffs on China's imports, fanning fresh fears of a global trade war.
"China and the EU ... should take a clear stance against protectionism, jointly preserve the rules-based multilateral trade order, and keep the global economy on a sound and sustainable track," Zhang Ming, the head of the Chinese mission to the EU, said in a statement sent to AFP.
"This is a joint responsibility of China and the EU. We must act together to make that happen," Zhang said.
In his statement, Zhang firmly defended multilateralism and said "the United States turns its back on these globally recognised rules and its own commitment." These "protectionist moves under the pretext of national security will undermine the credibility of the WTO-centred multilateral trade system, and the rules-based global trade order," he added.
The Chinese commerce ministry said Friday it is ready to pay "any cost" in the trade spat with Washington after already announcing plans to meet earlier US threats with levies on US$50 billion worth of major US exports such as soybeans, cars and small aircraft.
The EU is caught in its own trade drama with the US, under a threat of crippling steel and aluminium tariffs by Washington.
Trump last month authorised the suspension of those fresh tariffs, but only gave the EU until May 1 to come up with a solution to unfair trade practices alleged by the US leader.
The EU has so far reacted cautiously to the US measures against China despite sharing many of the same grievances against Beijing as Washington.
"What is important to stress is that the European Union believes that measures should always be taken within the World Trade Organisation framework, which provides numerous tools to effectively deal with trade differences," European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario said this week.