China delivers warning to US on tariffs

Agencies
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He have held tense trade discussions

China has warned the United States that any agreements reached on trade and business between the two countries will be void if Washington implements tariffs and other trade measures, as the two ended their latest round of talks in Beijing.

A short statement, carried by the official Xinhua news agency, made no mention of any specific new agreements after US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

It referred instead to a consensus they reached last month in Washington, when China agreed to significantly increase its purchases of US goods and services.

"If the United States introduces trade sanctions including increasing tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will not take effect," the Chinese statement said.

The United States and China have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $US150 billion ($A198 billion) each.

Xinhua said China's attitude has been consistent, which is that it is willing to increase imports from all countries, including the United States.

"Reform and opening up and expanding domestic demand are China's national strategies. Our established rhythm will not change," it added.

"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.

"If the United States introduces trade sanctions including tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void."

There was no immediate comment or statement from the US delegation or from Ross himself.

At the end of last month's Washington talks the two countries put out a joint statement.

But just when it appeared a trade truce between the two economic heavyweights was on the cards, the White House last week warned it would pursue tariffs on $US50 billion worth of Chinese imports, as well as impose restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States and tighter export controls.

Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday for talks after the Trump administration renewed tariff threats against China, and with key US allies in a foul mood towards Washington after they were hit with duties on steel and aluminium.

Addressing Liu earlier in the day, Ross praised the tone of their interactions.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items," Ross said, in brief comments before reporters.

Liu spoke only to welcome Ross.

Neither man has made any other comments to the media.

Ross left Beijing for Washington early on Sunday evening.