China warns US sanctions will affect trade talks

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China has warned that all trade talks between Beijing and Washington will be void if the US sets up trade sanctions. After talks between Vice Premier Liu He and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, China said it was ready to boost imports from many countries. Mr Ross’s China visit comes days after Washington threatened to impose extra tariffs on $50bn of Chinese goods. Meanwhile, G7 nations have hit out at the US over its new steel and aluminum import tariffs.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned a trade war could begin in “a few days”. On Saturday President Trump insisted on Twitter that the US had been “ripped off by other countries for years on trade”. He says steel tariffs will protect US steelmakers, which he says are vital to national security. Mr Trump has also complained about barriers US firms face in Europe and elsewhere. “Time to get smart!” he added.

A statement released by the Chinese side at the talks with the US in Beijing said nothing specific about the outcome, and referred back to an agreement reached in Washington last month to increase the purchase of US goods and services. “To implement the consensus reached in Washington, the two sides have had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress while relevant details are yet to be confirmed by both sides,” the statement said.

But state news agency Xinhua carried a statement which warned against a trade war and said the two sides should meet each other half way. “Reform and opening up and expanding domestic demand are China’s national strategies. Our established rhythm will not change,” it said. “If the United States introduces trade sanctions including tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void.”

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