China extended an olive branch to the U.S. on Thursday in regards to the trade tensions, but issued a warning at the same time.
In an appeal to Washington, China said to “meet each other halfway” and settle a trade war instead of going ahead with planned tariff hikes Beijing warned will trigger retaliation.
Exporters are preparing for a Sept. 1 increase in U.S. duties in a fight over trade and technology. Those are due to go ahead on more than $100 billion of Chinese goods despite the Trump administration’s decision to postpone some other planned increases to mid-December.
New U.S. tariffs will “lead to an escalation of economic and trade friction,” a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng, said at a news briefing.
The United States is pressing China to narrow its trade surplus and roll back plans for government-led development of global competitors in robotics and other technologies. Beijing’s trading partners say those plans violate its market-opening commitments. Some American officials worry they might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
Negotiations are deadlocked over how to enforce a deal. Beijing says punitive tariffs imposed by President Trump on Chinese products must be lifted as soon as an agreement takes effect.
Washington has said along the way an interest in keeping some of the tariffs to ensure Beijing carries out any promises it makes.
China is the Pentagon’s “number one priority,” and the United States is watching Beijing “very carefully” in order to safeguard America, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News in his first interview since he was confirmed as Pentagon chief in July.
U.S. and Chinese negotiators are due to meet in September in Washington. The last round of talks in Shanghai in July ended with no indication of progress.
Negotiators talked by phone Aug. 13 and agreed to talk again within two weeks, Gao said. He gave no details of the conversation.
Gao repeated a Chinese threat of unspecified “corresponding countermeasures” if Trump’s tariff hike goes ahead.
The United States has imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese products. Beijing retaliated with its own penalties on $110 billion of goods from the United States.
Trump earlier announced plans to impose 10 percent duties on $300 billion of Chinese goods, extending penalties to almost everything China sells the United States. He later postponed the tariff hike on about 60 percent of those goods to Dec. 15.