China warns U.S. against trade sanctions as talks end

U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross, second from left, is in Beijing for trade talks after Washington ratcheted up tensions with a new threat of tariff hikes on Chinese high-tech exports.

Other officials and technical experts from the Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury, United States Trade Representative, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy also took part, the White House said.

"The achievements reached by China and the United States should be based on the premise that the two sides should meet each other halfway and not fight a trade war", said the Chinese statement, carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Mnuchin, speaking at a G7 finance leaders meeting in Canada where he was the target of USA allies' anger over steel and aluminium tariffs, said the China talks would cover other issues, including the Trump administration's desire to eliminate Chinese joint venture requirements and other policies that effectively force technology transfers.

Instead, the short statement referred to last month's "consensus" reached in Washington.

Mr Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on a total of up to $US150 billion ($198 billion) of Chinese goods.

He said Washington would use its move on Tuesday to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese imports as a bargaining chip.

The statement gave few details on the talks, but it made clear that China would not deliver on commitments to buy more American goods if its exports are sanctioned. But the truce appeared to end with this week's announcement Washington was going ahead with tariff increases on technology goods and would also impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of USA hi-tech exports.

Following Beijing's announcement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the dispute was "on hold".

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Ross had been expected to seek clear commitments from Beijing to boost Chinese imports of United States products in areas such as energy and agriculture.

"China has demonstrated that it does not want a trade war, while at the same time revealing that it is not afraid of one either", the state-run Global Times, which is run by the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said in an editorial.

Earlier, China responded with a threat to retaliate with higher duties on a US$50 billion list of American goods including soybeans, small aircraft, whiskey, electric vehicles and orange juice. Still, Beijing resisted pressure to commit to a specific target of narrowing its annual surplus with the United States by $200 billion.

The two countries have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150bn each. Liu's delegation included China's central bank governor and commerce minister.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items", Mr Ross said at the opening of Sunday's meeting.

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

Trade analysts warned Ross's hand might be weakened by the Trump administration's decision Thursday to go ahead with tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Europe and Mexico.

That might alienate allies who share complaints about Chinese technology policy and a flood of low-cost steel, aluminum and other exports they say are the result of improper subsidies and hurt foreign competitors.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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