China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday trade negotiations with the United States would be impossible as Washington’s attempts at dialogue were not sincere.
The country vowed to retaliate should U.S. 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.
Mr Trump responded in a tweet saying he was “thankful” for Xi’s remarks on tariffs and access for U.S. automakers, and said both countries would “make great progress together”.
Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, told reporters during a regular briefing that Mr Xi’s remarks had nothing to do with the trade row.
It should not be mischaracterised as a concession to Washington, he said.
“I hope some people in the U.S 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.
Such has led to worries that Washington and Beijing may engage in a full-scale trade war that could damage global growth and roil markets.
Some U.S. officials and analysts have said that they believe the dispute could eventually be resolved via dialogue, 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 U.S. not showing sincerity at all,” Mr Gao said.
Washington accuses Chinese firms of stealing the trade secrets of U.S. companies and forcing them into joint ventures to acquire their technology — the crux of Mr Trump’s current tariff threats against China. Beijing denies this charge.
He said China will continue opening its markets based on its own plans and implement lower tariffs pledged by Mr Xi as soon as possible.