America's unilateral tariffs on Chinese goods contravene global trade rules and run counter to its own interests, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday.
His pointed comments come amid reports that the Trump administration is seeking to force China back to the negotiating table by threatening to raise its proposed tariffs on US$200 billion (S$273 billion) worth of Chinese goods from the initially planned 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
Mr Wang told reporters at a press conference after the Asean-China ministerial meeting in Singapore: "Instead of achieving one's own goal by doing this, we believe it will only hurt one's own interests."
Urging cooler heads in Washington to prevail, Mr Wang made the case that US tariffs would hurt its own consumers and businesses, given how globalised trade is today.
He said: "Sixty per cent of Chinese exports to the US are actually made by foreign companies, in-cluding American firms in China. Is the US trying to put tariffs on its own companies?
"For Chinese exports to the US, many of them are no longer produced in the US itself. Is the US administration trying to raise the living cost of its own consumers?"
U.S. HURTING ITS OWN COMPANIES
Sixty per cent of Chinese exports to the US are actually made by foreign companies, including American firms in China. Is the US trying to put tariffs on its own companies?
CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER WANG YI
Even if the US tries to buy fewer goods from China through imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, it still has to buy these goods from other countries, he said. This would not help the US ease its trade imbalance with China either, he added.
Businesses in the US also want a slice of the growing market in China, which is ready to buy more to meet the growing demand from Chinese consumers, Mr Wang said. "We hope that the trade policymakers in the US will be cool-headed and listen to the voice of US consumers and the US business community," he added.
His call was echoed by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), which warned yesterday that the escalating trade conflict is hurting German companies doing business in or with China and the US.
According to Reuters, a survey of DIHK's members doing business in China showed that 41 per cent were already affected by the higher tariffs when exporting to the US, while 46 per cent reported higher costs when importing from America.
For German firms doing business in the US, 57 per cent said they faced negative effects when exporting to China, while 75 per cent reported disadvantages such as higher costs when importing from China.
Even German firms producing at home were hit by the US-China trade row because of their global network of suppliers and customers.
But China appeared unlikely to back down, with Mr Wang stressing that any pressure the US was trying to put on China would not work.
He said: "While China is ready to talk to anyone who is ready to talk to us, including the US, this kind of dialogue has to take place on the basis of mutual respect and equality."