China said Thursday that the U.S. trade approach had set a bad precedent that could trigger a domino effect on protectionism, and the United States must resort to dialogue and consultation to settle disputes.
Gao Feng, spokesperson with China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC), made the remarks in response to questions about the U.S. plans to slap tariffs on about 50 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese imports and restrict Chinese investment in the United States.
"The United States must abandon unilateralism and protectionism, take measures and resort to dialogue and consultation to settle disputes," Gao said.
"China is always open for negotiations," Gao said, emphasizing the principles of equality, constructiveness and balance needed in joint efforts.
The spokesperson refuted the view that China's slower-than-expected fulfillment of World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations was the cause of the U.S. tariff plan, saying this was "totally unfounded."
Since its accession to the WTO, China has actively assumed its responsibilities as a major developing trading nation and continued to open up its market, having cut its overall tariff level from 15.3 percent to 9.8 percent, he said.
The U.S. administration has taken an increasingly hawkish turn on China, as it blames its trade deficit with major trading partners for its domestic economic woes and job losses.
Despite worldwide objections, the U.S. government also decided to impose a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum, with tariffs on imports from countries including China.
"The latest U.S. trade measures towards China are typical trade protectionism with cold war and a zero-sum mentality. Don't make China an excuse," Gao said.
The spokesperson said the United States should not take its own course but "come back to the right track of advocating win-win cooperation between the two countries."
Gao said China would take all possible appropriate measures to defend its legitimate interests and was confident in its ability to react against any trade or investment protectionist act.
In response to the U.S. tariff proposals, the MOC announced last week that it was considering suspending tariff concessions on 128 categories of U.S. products worth 3 billion U.S. dollars, including pork, wine and seamless steel tubes.
Public comments on the move are being solicited until March 31.