China says it will fight back if U.S. escalates trade spat

BEIJING - China's commerce ministry said on Thursday trade negotiations with the United States would be impossible as Washington's attempts at dialog were not sincere, and vowed to retaliate should US President Donald Trump escalate current tensions.
China President Xi Jinping on Tuesday vowed to open China's economy further and lower import duties on goods such as cars, which had boosted hopes for a compromise. Trump responded in a tweet saying he was "thankful" for Xi's remarks on tariffs and access for US automakers, and said both countries would "make great progress together."
Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters during a regular briefing, however, that Xi's remarks had nothing to do with the trade row and should not be mischaracterised as a concession to Washington.
"I hope some people in the US do not misjudge the situation," he said. "If the United States takes any action to escalate the situation, China will not hesitate to fight back."
The world's two largest economies have threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars' worth of tariffs in recent weeks, leading to worries that Washington and Beijing may engage in a full-scale trade war that could damage global growth and roil markets.
Some US officials and analysts have said they believe the dispute could eventually be resolved via dialog, but Beijing reiterated on Thursday that no formal talks have taken place.
"It is not a matter of whether China is willing to participate in the negotiations. It is about the US not showing sincerity at all," Gao said.
China's Global Times tabloid wrote in a commentary that Washington can either respond sincerely to China's determination of opening up and launching goodwill interactions or keep pressuring China with unreasonable demands and escalate trade frictions.
Washington accuses Chinese firms of stealing the trade secrets of US companies and forcing them into joint ventures to acquire their technology - the crux of Trump's current tariff threats against China. Beijing denies this charge.