China Warns U.S. Tariffs Will Undo Progress Made on Trade

A Chinese government statement said trade talks held over the weekend between Chinese negotiators and the U.S. delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross produced “positive and concrete” developments. However, it added that China would not make good on its commitment to buy more American goods if its exports are sanctioned.

“Agreements between China and the United States should be based on the premise of both sides moving in the same direction and not waging a trade war,” the Chinese statement said. “If the U.S. launches trade sanction measures, including the imposition of tariffs, then all the economic and trade benefits negotiated by both sides are not going to take effect.”

The meetings in Beijing came shortly after President Donald Trump decided to move forward with steep tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union, catching the Chinese off guard as the duties were put on hold while the two countries negotiated.

At the talks in Beijing this weekend, “the two sides had good exchanges of views on implementing the consensus reached in Washington, particularly in the areas of agriculture and energy,” China’s official news agency Xinhua reported.

It added that although positive developments were produced, details remained to be finalized. The U.S. delegation did not immediately comment on the outcome of the talks.

Earlier Sunday, Ross, who came to Beijing to seek commitments from China to increase its imports of U.S. products, said that the “meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items.”

However, the move to impose tariffs seems to have proved an obstacle as China suggested it won’t change its economic policies just to appease the United States. It said, “economic reform and opening up, as well as increasing domestic consumption, are China’s national strategies — and our established pace of reform won’t change.”

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