China will respond as necessary in the event of a trade war with the United States, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday, while warning that such a war would only harm all sides.
US President Donald Trump is expected to establish tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum this week, but the White House has said there could be a 30-day exemption for Mexico and Canada and some other countries based on national security.
Such a move aims to counter cheap imports, especially from China, that Trump says undermine US industry and jobs.
Trump's administration has faced growing opposition to the tariffs from prominent congressional Republicans and business officials worried about their potential impact on the economy.
Trade tension with the United States has jumped to the top of the list of risks facing China this year, Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum this week, and its latest data showed exports surging 44.5 percent in February from a year earlier.
Wang, speaking on the sidelines of an annual meeting of China's parliament, said China and the United States did not have to be rivals, and history showed that trade wars were not the correct way to resolve problems.
“Especially given today's globalization, choosing a trade war is a mistaken prescription. The outcome will only be harmful,” Wang said.
“China would have to make a justified and necessary response,” he said. Wang said China had a long way to go on its path of modernization, and that it “will not and need not displace the United States”.
Trump addressed trade with China in tweets on Wednesday, demanding that it lay out plans for reducing its trade surplus with the United States by $1 billion, which appeared to have been raised during a meeting with a top Chinese official last week.
“China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States,” Trump tweeted, without saying where the message had been conveyed.