China says ready to defend its interests in trade spat with US

US President Donald Trump signs trade sanctions against China to retaliate against the alleged theft of American intellectual property

China plans to take legal action against the US under the World Trade Organization framework, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement March 23.

"China does not want a trade war with anyone", said the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. The threat of Chinese retaliation raised fears of a US-China trade war.

On Thursday, the White House announced plans to introduce tariffs on US$60 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The ministry said it could sanction more than 120 USA goods, including American nuts and wines. This value is estimated to be "at least $50 billion per year", it added.

Since his inauguration in January past year, Donald Trump has regularly taken to Twitter to proclaim the gains in USA stocks, often appearing to take credit for their rise.

The levies, which go into effect on Friday, will largely hit China.

"China has cheated, stolen and bullied American industry on trade for decades, causing massive economic wreckage to workers, employers and communities across America in the process".

If China and the US can't reach an agreement on steel and aluminum trade, after a public consultation period which ends March 31, Beijing could begin collecting tariffs of 15 percent on imports worth $977 million, including fresh fruit, nuts, wines, denatured alcohol, ginseng, and seamless steel tubes.

"Of course, China can think, Chinese officials can think: Which American goods shall we put a tariff on just to hurt them", Kennedy said.

Trump has repeatedly accused Beijing of unfair trade practices like currency manipulation - which helps China make its exports more affordable - and of stealing United States intellectual property. The tariffs are effective Friday.

"We have repeatedly told the USA side that steel and aluminum imports from its ally Japan will not adversely affect America's national security, and that Japan should be excluded", said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Hu added that China may be replacing the United States, with Xi picking up the banner of global cooperation on trade, climate and other issues that Trump's predecessors had carried.

The ministry said it will seek public consultation on the proposals before they are implemented.

Altogether, the US trade representative estimates that these policies cost USA businesses around $50 billion a year.

"Many countries are calling to negotiate better trade deals because they don't want to have to pay the steel and aluminum tariffs", Trump said as he signed an order to impose new tariffs on China.

"Our major worry is whether President Trump's tactical approach will spill over to the rest of the world", they wrote.

"They also jeopardize worldwide trade order and world economic stability", it said.

Noting that consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process, the USTR said if the USA and China are not able to reach a mutually agreed solution through consultations, the Trump Administration may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel to review the matter.

A senior administration official told reporters: "By some calculations, every billion dollar of trade deficit that arises from market-distorted policies, costs us about 6,000 jobs".

Chinese customs data show that in the first two months of this year, the surplus jumped 35% year-on year to $42.9 billion.

One of the most contentious parts of the law involves measures that allow China to conduct security reviews of technology products and services that could affect national security. "As America's third largest and most rapidly growing export market and as the largest foreign owner of Treasuries, China has considerably more leverage over the USA than Washington politicians care to admit".

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