China's trade surplus widened sharply amid escalating trade tensions with the USA, which is preparing to impose fresh tariffs on a further $200 billion in Chinese goods.
China's Commerce Ministry said that Beijing had no choice but to fight back after the USA "launched the largest trade war in economic history", accusing Washington of violating the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Firing the first shots in a trade war that has rattled financial markets and raised risks to the global economy, Washington last week imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, drawing rapid retaliatory duties by Beijing on the same amount of United States exports to China.
"We do feel that China is receptive at this time and it's all about making prices competitive", said a government official involved in the effort to promote trade with China.
A trade war between Washington and Beijing has led some Chinese hotels and restaurants to begin raising prices for American customers in an unofficial form of retaliation.
The latest round of tariffs on products from China proposed by President Donald Trump could double the price of "Make America Great Again" hats inspired by his 2016 campaign slogan, according to a merchandiser who imports them.
"We expect the trade numbers for July to disappoint since that's when the first round of U.S. tariffs took effect", said Amy Zhuang, China analyst at Nordea Bank in Singapore. "They are just a trade bully", he told reporters in Geneva.
Investors fear a prolonged trade battle with the United States could harm business confidence and investment, disrupting global supply chains and harming growth in China and the rest of the world.
"There will be challenges facing foreign trade with rising instabilities and uncertainties in the global environment, " said a Chinese customs agency report.
South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, warned on Thursday that components and materials used in home appliances, computers and communications devices could be caught in the crossfire of the trade war.
China's exports rose 11.3% in June from a year earlier, compared with a 12.6% increase in May, customs data showed.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 11, 2018.
But, he said, China has another option - Beijing could reduce the impact of U.S. tariffs on exporters by devaluing the yuan to make its goods cheaper for American consumers.
In a sign Beijing is seeking alternative supplies of the commodities as it hit USA imports with extra tariffs, China had dropped import tariffs on a range of animal feed ingredients from several Asian countries.
"We expect slowing export growth to put downward pressure on the current account and RMB (yuan), and believe China is likely to be willing to make concessions in future rounds of trade negotiations with the U.S.", Nomura analysts said in a note to clients.
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