China warns USA against trade sanctions as talks end

Commerce Secretary To Press China To Buy As Allies Seethe Over Tariffs

White House advisers insisted on fundamental changes in ties between the world's two biggest economic powers.

Chinese and U.S. teams, led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, hold economic and trade consultations in Beijing, capital of China, from June 2-3.

"The more Trump is irritating allies and asking Chinese to buy stuff, the better off they are, because he's not sitting there and attacking the hard issues", the person said.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after their meeting and joint news conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2018.

Media captionWhat are the contentious issues around US-China trade? Mr Trump has also complained about barriers USA firms face in Europe and elsewhere.

China today warned the U.S. that trade negotiations would be void if it imposes tariffs on Chinese goods, as the latest round of talks organised to avert a trade war between the two largest economies of the world ended here. China has targeted $50 billion in USA products in retaliation. Discussions centered on getting China to carry out recent promises to buy more American farm and energy products.

Analysts had noted in recent weeks a seesawing of USA demands of China, that may reflect division among Trump's inner circle on whether reducing the trade deficit, demanding structural change to China's economy or addressing forced technology transfers was the priority.

The talks focus on adding details to China's May 19 promise to narrow its politically volatile surplus in trade in goods with the United States, which reached a record US$375.2 billion previous year.

After the apparent cease-fire, global financial markets rallied in relief.

The two countries have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150bn each.

There was no indication whether the talks also would take up American complaints that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies. Navarro later called Mnuchin's conciliatory comments "an unfortunate soundbite".

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Ross and Liu held a working dinner Saturday ahead of their talks.

Gai Xinzhe, an analyst at Bank of China's finance institute in Beijing, told Bloomberg that "China is concerned over the U.S.'s unpredictability, especially after Trump turned an about-face on tariffs".

If the U.S. moves forward with sanctions, "all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void", Xinhua state news agency said in a statement.

Beijing has portrayed itself as a defender of free trade, despite China's status as the most closed major economy, in response to Trump's support for import controls.

The tariffs announced Thursday on steel from Canada, Mexico and Europe have no effect on China.

After a three-day meeting of finance ministers from the G7 industrial nations that ended Saturday in Canada, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau issued a summary saying the other six members want Trump to hear their message of "concern and disappointment" over the U.S. trade actions.

Canada plans to impose tariffs of up to 25% on about $13bn worth of USA exports from 1 July.

At a gathering of G-7 leaders in the Canadian ski town of Whistler on Saturday, finance ministers from six of the world's largest economies asked Mr Mnuchin to convey their "unanimous concern and disappointment" to US President Donald Trump over the latest trade actions, which they said were harmful to the world's economic development. He also pushed back against the argument that Canadian steel poses a USA security threat. But the United States Commerce Secretary appeared to be the only one in a positive mood.

Bruno Le Maire, France's finance and economy minister, also called the US tariffs unjustified. He's threatening to hike duties on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports.

Trade analysts warned Ross's hand might be weakened by Thursday's tariff hike on imports from potential allies that share Washington's complaints about Chinese technology policy and flood of low-cost exports.

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