China warned the US it will defend its interests on trade, Chinese state media says, after US President Donald Trump backed tariffs on Chinese goods.
The comments came in a phone call between China’s vice-premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Mr Trump has announced plans to impose tariffs on up to $60bn (£42.5bn) of Chinese goods, accusing China of intellectual property theft.
The move has rattled markets and stoked fears of a trade war.
Mr Liu, who is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, told Mr Mnuchin that Beijing was “ready to defend its national interests” but hoped that “both sides will remain rational and work together,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
During the telephone conversation, which is thought to be the highest-level contact between the two governments since Mr Trump announced the tariffs on Thursday, Mr Liu also accused the US of violating international trade rules following its investigation into Chinese intellectual property practices.
Amid the tensions on trade, World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo has warned that new trade barriers would “jeopardise the global economy”.
Mr Trump, however, has said that the US move to raise tariffs against China was already beginning to get results.
“Many other countries are now negotiating fair trade deals with us,” the president said on Friday.
Following Mr Trump’s move, China said it was planning to retaliate with its own set of proposed tariffs worth $3bn, including tariffs on groceries and aluminium scrap.
Beijing has warned the US that it is “not afraid of a trade war”, but has said that it hopes to avoid one through continued dialogue.