Chinese officials urge Trump to not abandon global trade order

Chinese officials urged the U.S. to support global trade in the wake of President Donald Trump‘s announcement on Thursday of new steel and aluminum tariffs.

Trump said the U.S. will set tariffs of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum imports. The duties are set to take effect as early as next week. The tariffs are broad, and no specific country is targeted. But China is an ongoing focus of the Trump administration’s trade policy.

Here’s what some Chinese officials said Friday:

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“If countries around the world all follow the step of the U.S., it will definitely inflict serious impacts to the international trade order. … We urge the U.S. to be restrained in taking trade protection measures, follow the multilateral trade rule, and positively contribute to the global economic and trade order.”

Wang Guoqing, spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference:

“Regrettably, some in the West in their bodies may have entered the 21st century, but their brain is still stuck in the Cold War era.”

“This sort of hype shows that some people in the West still like to draw ideological lines, stick to Cold War mentality. They are full of prejudice discrimination and hostility to China. This is a new version of the ‘China Threat’ theory.”

“What is worrisome to many World Trade Organisation members is the unilateral actions and voices from the United States. Let me say, as important members of the WTO, both China and U.S. need to uphold the authority of WTO rules and together improve the rules based fair and open multilateral trade system centered around the WTO.”

Wang’s remarks Friday came one day ahead of the political advisory body’s annual session, which begins Saturday afternoon and runs until the morning of March 15.

Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, said Friday the organization is “clearly concerned” about the tariffs.

“The potential for escalation is real, as we have seen from the initial responses of others,” Azevedo said in a statement reported by Reuters.

In a separate announcement Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce said it made a final determination by how much Chinese companies are selling aluminum foil in the U.S. below market value and being helped by subsidies. The department said it will levy duties accordingly.

“The Chinese side was strongly against it,” Wang Hejun, head of China’s Ministry of Commerce Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, said in an online statement Friday, referring to Tuesday’s news. Wang did not comment directly on Trump’s tariff announcement.

“The unreasonable and excessive use of trade remedy measures will not realize the renaissance of U.S. aluminum foil industry but will affect its domestic employment and impair the interests of U.S. consumers,” Wang said. “The Chinese side will take necessary measures to uphold our legitimate rights against the wrongdoings of the U.S. side.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s top economic advisor Liu He met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House economic advisor Gary Cohn and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday, the same day Trump announced the tariffs.

“We discussed ways to ensure fair and reciprocal trade,” a White House official said in a Reuters report.

— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.