BEIJING: China said on Monday (Apr 9) trade talks with the United States are “impossible” under current conditions after President Donald Trump tweeted that he saw an end to the dispute.
“Up to now, Chinese and US officials have not held any negotiations on the trade dispute,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing.
“Under the current conditions, it is impossible for the two sides to have any negotiations on this issue,” Geng added.
Asian markets rose earlier in the day as fears about a potentially catastrophic China-US trade war were tempered by hopes the two sides will be able to hammer out an agreement.
On Friday, Trump had warned of tariffs on an additional US$100 billion worth of Chinese imports, to which Beijing responded by saying it would stand firm.
But on Sunday he seemed to back off, tweeting that he saw an end to the dispute: “China will take down its trade barriers because it is the right thing to do,” he wrote.
However, China stepped up its attacks on the Trump administration on Monday , saying Washington is to blame for trade frictions.
Chinese state researchers and media talked down the likely impact of US trade measures on the world’s second-largest economy and described the Trump administration’s posturing on trade as the product of an “anxiety disorder”.
“The United States with one hand wields the threat of sanctions, and at the same time says they are willing to talk. I’m not sure who the United States is putting on this act for,” Geng said.
The trade frictions were “entirely at the provocation of the United States”, he added.
Top advisor Larry Kudlow, who has often suggested the tariffs might not go into effect, warned on Friday the announcements were not negotiating tactics.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House hoped to negotiate but acknowledged a trade war was a possibility.
Beijing did not want to fight a trade war but was not afraid of one, Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said at the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern province of Hainan.
“China’s reaction to Mr Trump’s legitimate defence of the American homeland has been a Great Wall of denial — despite incontrovertible evidence of Beijing’s illicit and protectionist behaviours,” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said in a commentary in the Financial Times on Monday.
“Nothing less than the US’s economic future is at risk from China’s assault on American technology and IP, and its mercantilist bid to capture emerging high-tech industries,” he said.
Chinese officials deny such charges, and responded within hours of Trump’s announcement of tariffs with their own proposed commensurate duties.
None of the measures have yet gone into effect, offering some hope for compromise and a watering down of the proposals even as both sides’ rhetoric grows more strident.