Chinese minister appeals to Washington to avoid ‘trade war’

Hucheng responds to Trump's promise to raise taxes on Chinese imports

February 21, 2017   by ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING — China’s commerce minister appealed to Washington to negotiate disputes and avoid a trade war that he warned would hurt both sides.

The two governments should work together to promote trade and a global recovery, Gao Hucheng said at a news conference in response to a question about US President Donald Trump’s promise to raise taxes on Chinese imports.

Trump pledged during his election campaign to raise import duties on Chinese goods to 40% but has yet to take formal action. He also promised to declare that Beijing is improperly manipulating the exchange rate of its yuan to give its exporters a price advantage, which would open the way to other sanctions.

Gao appealed to Washington to “properly solve” disputes through “dialogue and co-operation.”

He argued that both sides have benefited from what has grown into the world’s biggest trading relationship.

“A trade war should not become an option,” Gao said. “If the two sides fight, all will be hurt.”

Trump argues that the existing order has short-changed Americans by exposing them to unfair competition with low-wage foreign labourers and to unjust trade practices by China and others.

Gao never mentioned Trump by name but responded to questions about his comments by saying Beijing was waiting to see what Washington does.

“We noticed various remarks made by presidential candidates during the election but didn’t want to comment too much because we wanted to see what stance the new government would take toward trade relations with China,” he said.

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