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Will respond firmly if US raises trade tension: Chinese foreign ministry

Reuters/Beijing 12 Jun 19 | 01:45 AM

China will respond firmly if the United States insists on escalating trade tensions, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump said further tariffs were ready to kick in if no deal was reached at a G20 summit this month.

Trump has repeatedly said he is getting ready to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Osaka summit at the end of June, but China has not confirmed it.

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Trump said last week he would decide after the meeting of the leaders of the world's largest economies whether to carry out a threat to impose tariffs on at least $300 billion in Chinese goods.

On Monday, Trump said he was ready to impose another round of punitive tariffs on Chinese imports if he cannot make progress in trade talks with Xi in Osaka.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang again would not be drawn on confirming a Xi-Trump meeting at G20, saying information would be released once it was available to the ministry.

"China does not want to fight a trade war, but we are not afraid of fighting a trade war," he said, adding China's door was open to talks based on equality.

"If the United States only wants to escalate trade frictions, we will resolutely respond and fight to the end." U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Tuesday downplayed this month's summit in Japan, saying it would not be "a place where anyone makes a definitive deal." "At the G20, at most it will be ... some sort of agreement on a path forward, but certainly it's not going to be a definite agreement," Ross told CNBC in a television interview.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing rose sharply in May after the Trump administration accused China of having reneged on promises to make structural economic changes during months of trade talks.

The United States is seeking sweeping changes, including an end to forced technology transfers and theft of US trade secrets. It also wants curbs on subsidies for Chinese state-owned enterprises and better access for U.S. firms in Chinese markets.

On May 10, Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods up to 25% and took steps to levy duties on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports. Beijing retaliated with tariff hikes on a revised list of $60 billion in US goods.

The US government has also angered China by putting Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on a blacklist that effectively bans US companies from doing business with the Chinese firm, the world's biggest telecoms equipment maker.

Investors worry China will retaliate by putting US companies on a blacklist or banning exports to the United States of rare earth metals, which are used in products such as memory chips, rechargeable batteries and cell phones.

President Donald Trump said he’s personally holding up a trade deal with China, and that he won’t complete the agreement unless Beijing returns to terms negotiated earlier in the year.

“It’s me right now that’s holding up the deal," Trump said. “And we’re going to either do a great deal with China or we’re not going to do a deal at all."

Last month, the US accused China of reneging on provisions of a tentative trade deal, bringing talks to a halt. “We had a deal with China and unless they go back to that deal I have no interest," Trump said. Trump’s comments came a day after he threatened to raise tariffs on China if President Xi Jinping doesn’t meet with him at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Japan. 

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