"We don't want a trade war," Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai said in a video posted to the embassy's Facebook page. "But we are not afraid of it."
The president instructed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to levy tariffs on up to US$60 billion (S$79 billion) of Chinese imports, citing allegations China violates US intellectual property. Trump signed an executive memo issuing the instructions on Thursday at the White House. Within 15 days, USTR will come up with a proposed list of products that will face higher tariffs.
Cui said accusations of intellectual property violations are "groundless" and his country "will certainly fight back and retaliate. If people want to play tough, we will play tough with them and see who will last longer. "
Cui said Trump's trade sanctions against China make "no economic sense" because the escalating conflict "will affect the daily life of American middle-class people, the balance sheet of American companies and the indexes of the financial market."
The Chinese embassy in Washington later echoed Cui's comments in a written statement, calling Trump's tariffs "self-defeating."
"China does not want a trade war with anyone. But China is not afraid of and will not recoil from a trade war," the embassy said in a statement sent to reporters. "If a tradewar were initiated by the US, China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures."