China says ready to defend its interests in U.S. trade spat
The United States has flouted trade rules with an inquiry into intellectual property and China will defend its interests, Vice Premier Liu He told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a telephone call on Saturday, Reuters with reference to the Chinese state media reported.
The call between Mnuchin and Liu, a confidante of President Xi Jinping, was the highest-level contact between the two governments since U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods on Thursday.
The escalating tension sent shivers through financial markets as investors foresaw dire consequences for the global economy if trade barriers start going up.
In the call with Mnuchin, Liu, a Harvard-trained economist, said China still hoped both sides would remain “rational” and jointly work together to keep trade relations stable, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Washington is concerned at what it says is the misappropriation of intellectual property following an eight-month investigation under Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act. It has also pressed China to cut its staggering $375 billion trade surplus with the United States by $100 billion.
Liu said the Section 301 investigation report “violates international trade rules and is beneficial to neither Chinese interests, U.S. interests nor global interests”, Xinhua cited him as saying.
“China has already prepared, and has the strength, to defend its national interests,” Liu said, adding that China hopes both sides can work hard to protect generally stable Sino-U.S. trade and business relations.
Both sides agreed to continue to communicate on the matter, the report added, without providing further details.