BEIJING (AP) — China warned Sunday after another round of talks on a sprawling trade dispute with Washington that any deals they produce “will not take effect” if President Donald Trump’s threatened tariff hike on Chinese goods goes ahead. The warning came after delegations led by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and China’s top economic official, Vice Premier Liu He, wrapped up a meeting on Beijing’s pledge to narrow its trade surplus. Ross said at the start of the event they had discussed specific American exports China might purchase, but the talks ended with no joint statement and neither side released details. The White House threw the meeting’s status into doubt Tuesday by renewing a threat to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese high-tech goods in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. The event went ahead despite that but Beijing said it reserved the right to retaliate. Tuesday’s announcement revived fears the conflict between the two biggest economies might dampen global growth or encourage other governments to raise their own barriers to imports. “If the United States introduces trade sanctions including a tariff increase, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will not take effect,” said the Chinese statement, carried by the official Xinhua News Agency. The negotiating process should be “based on the premise” of not fighting a “trade war,” the statement said. Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its politically volatile trade surplus with the United States, which reached a record $375.2 billion last year. That comes at the same time Trump has riled some of America’s closest allies with the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. After a three-day meeting of finance ministers from the G7 industrial nations that ended Saturday in Canada, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau issued a summary saying the other six members want Trump to hear their message of “concern and disappointment” over the U.S. trade actions. Allies including Canada and the European Union are threatening retaliatory tariffs. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance and economy minister, was blunt in his assessment of the meeting. “It has been a tense and tough G7 — I would say it’s been far more a G6 plus one than a G7,” said Le Maire, who called the tariffs unjustified. “We regret that our common work together at the level of the G7 has been put at risk by the decisions taken by the American administration on trade and on tariffs,” he said
Analysts suggested Trump might be trying to appease critics of his administration’s deal to allow Chinese telecom equipment giant ZTE Corp. to stay in business. They said those political pressures mean the technology-related tariff hikes are likely to go ahead.
Members of Congress criticized the agreement to lift a ban on sales of U.S. components to ZTE, which admitted violating rules on exports to Iran and North Korea. In exchange, the company is to remove its management team, hire American compliance officers and pay a fine. Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on a total of up to $150 billion of Chinese goods. Tuesday’s announcement gave no indication whether the other increases might also go ahead. China has threatened to retaliate by raising import duties on a $50 billion list of American goods including soybeans, small aircraft, whiskey, electric vehicles and orange juice. It criticized Tuesday’s announcement but refrained from repeating its earlier threat. Private sector analysts say while Beijing is willing to compromise on its trade surplus, it will resist changes that might threaten plans to transform China into a global technology competitor