China has once again made it clear that it won't hesitate to retaliate in the trade spat with the US, asserting that Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge to cut import tariffs is not a concession to Washington.
China's Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that Beijing was ready to strike back if the United States presses on with its economic nationalist agenda.
"If the US side takes it own course and insists on carrying out unilateralism and trade protectionism, the Chinese side will fight resolutely and take them on until the end," ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a regular news briefing.
Gao said it would be misleading to say that President Xi Jinping's pledge this week to further open the country's economy was a concession to US President Donald Trump. He also stressed that there were currently no negotiations between the two sides, and that China would not pursue talks under "one-sided coercion."
Xi on Tuesday vowed to lower car tariffs, protect intellectual property and gradually open up China's financial market to foreign investors. The announcement was seen as a conciliatory gesture to temper fears of a trade war with the US.
The US president welcomed the speech and said he saw an end to the dispute, which has roiled markets since the start of March.
But Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao noted the measures were proactive and had nothing to do with the trade frictions.
"China took the initiative to open up and made it possible for all countries across the world to ride on the express of China's economic development," Gao said. "We hope some people in the United States don't misjudge the situation."
Gao repeated complaints that Trump acted improperly when he responded to Beijing's protest over his plan to raise tariffs on $50 billion (€40.4 billion) of Chinese goods by saying he might add another $100 billion of imports to the list.
Washington has announced the new tariffs in response to accusations that Chinese firms are stealing the trade secrets of US companies and forcing them into joint ventures to acquire their technology.
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As recently as Monday, Donald Trump criticized China on Twitter for maintaining 25 percent import tariffs on autos compared to the United States' 2.5 percent duties, calling such a relationship with China not free trade but "stupid trade."
uhe/aos (Reuters, AFP, AP)