China warns U.S. sanctions will void trade talks


China on Sunday warned the U.S. that results of trade talks would be void if Washington went ahead with imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, as negotiations came to an end in Beijing.

The talks were led by US Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He in Beijing. China pledged to take steps to "substantially" reduce the USA trade deficit, including by buying more American farm goods and energy, though it didn't commit to a dollar amount.

"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. China slammed the "flip-flop", vowing to hit back should the USA tariff threat materialize.

"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.

Before Ross arrived with his team for the two-day talks, the United States and China had threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion each.

China wanted the U.S. to meet it half way, Xinhua said.

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. "China's attitude on a trade war remains the same and will always be consistent".

But Beijing warned all the results were premised on "not fighting a trade war".

But the truce appeared to end with last week's announcement Washington was going ahead with tariff hikes on technology goods and also would impose curbs on Chinese investment and purchases of USA high-tech exports.

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State-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times said in an editorial on its website that China needed to prepare for the long haul due to the USA propensity for changing its mind and coming up with new demands.

The US has not released its statement on the talks.

State news outlets have portrayed the ZTE decision as having been made by Mr. Ross's Commerce Department, and they have suggested that it is merely a bargaining ploy as part of trade negotiations.

Ross nonetheless journeyed to Beijing Friday to work out details of the vague agreement Mnuchin had earlier cobbled together with the Chinese vice premier.

"If the United States side imposes trade restrictions, including high tariffs, then all trade agreements reached as result of talks will have no binding force", the statement read. "However, what the saying right now is: "I'm done with you, I don't want to stick with the rules anymore", and there's not much we can do", said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank in Shanghai. "If there are structural changes that allow our companies to compete fairly, by definition that will deal with the trade deficit alone", Mnuchin said Saturday, according to Bloomberg News.

But Mnuchin and United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer didn't attend Sunday's meeting in Beijing.

Ross, who was preceded in Beijing last week by more than 50 US officials, had been expected during the two-day visit to try to secure long-term purchases of USA farm and energy commodities to help shrink the USA trade deficit.

While many countries share US frustration with Chinese trade and economic practices, critics of USA policy under Trump have warned that Washington risks alienating the European Union, Canada and Mexico with 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. 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 U.S. hi-tech exports.