China ‘won’t sit idly by’ if US harms trade: official

Beijing, Mar 4  China will not “sit idly by” if the US tries to hurt its economic interests, a top official said today, after President Donald Trump sparked trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies by announcing plans to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Zhang Yesui, spokesman of China’s Parliament, the National People s Congress (NPC), said China does not want a trade war with the US but would take necessary measures if America’s move impacts its economic interests.

His comments came amid growing China-US discord over Trump’s announcement of increasing tariffs over US imports of steel and aluminium.

Trump said the hefty tariffs aim to protect domestic industry as well as to counter persistent threats posed by Chinese products.

“China does not want a trade war with the US but if the US takes actions that hurts China’s interests then China will not sit idly and take necessary measures,” Zhang said.

China has the lion’s share of over USD 580 billion in bilateral trade with the US. The trade deficit for the US amounted to over USD 370 billion last year.

Since he took over power, Trump has been pressuring China to step up measures to reduce trade deficit and expand US exports and investments. China signed trade deals worth about USD 250 billion, including buying 300 planes from Boeing, during Trump’s visit here last year.

China also opened its markets to import soya beans, beef and oil from US.

Early this week, Beijing rushed its top diplomat Yang Jiechi followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s economic advisor Liu He to the US to pacify the Trump administration to avert a “trade war” between the two countries.

Referring to the ongoing talks, Zhang said for the past couple of days, China and the US had consultations over the trade issues and agreed to hold the talks in Beijing to deepen the bilateral cooperation.

“China-US relations is one the most important bilateral relationships in the world. A stable and growing relationship will not only serve the fundamental interests of both the peoples and it is also the what the international community wants to see,” Zhang, a former Chinese Ambassador to US, said.

He said the right approach to address the trade issue is to open the market to each other and work together to find solutions acceptable through talks.

Stating that the US-China ties in the last 39 years benefited both the countries, Zhang said China and the US have different political systems, history and development stage.

“So we don’t see eye to eye on every issue and that is only natural. such differences need not necessarily lead to conformation between that two countries,” he said.

It is important for both sides to perceive each other’s strategic intentions correctly and with a fair mind and keep to the right direction of the China US relations, he said.

“Policies informed by misjudgement or wrong presumption will hurt the relations and bring about the consequences neither side want to see,” he cautioned.

China stands ready to work with the US to follow through on the consensus of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump during the US President’s visit to Beijing last year and work with mutual respect and increase strategic mutual trust, avoid strategic misjudgement and focus mutual beneficial cooperation and propel handle differences so as to keep China us ties on the right track, he said.

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