SINGAPORE, Nov 13 – China\’s commerce minister hit out on Friday at a series of trade actions by the United States, striking a tough stance ahead of a visit next week by President Barack Obama.
Chen Deming did not name the US but made clear he was referring to Washington in warning that an "unprecedented" series of trade remedy investigations and other actions against China threatened free trade.
"These measures have bad and profound implications for free international trade," Chen told reporters on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Singapore.
"In my view, these trade protectionist measures will impede the recovery of international trade and will put the world economy in a more difficult situation," he told a media briefing.
Tensions between the world\’s number-one and number-three economies intensified last week when the US slapped anti-dumping tariffs of up to 99 percent on imports of some Chinese steel products used in the oil industry.
China branded the decision an "abuse of protectionism" and retaliated by launching its own probe into US car imports.
The two countries have traded a series of accusations of unfair trade practices since September when the Obama administration announced it would slap duties on Chinese-made tyres.
"I do believe all countries in the world should make concerted efforts to criticise and fight such protectionist measures," said Chen.
The European Union has also launched several anti-dumping investigations against Chinese goods this year.
Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao will be among the 21 regional leaders attending the full APEC summit this weekend. Obama will then make his first official visit to China from November 15-18.
A US official said in Beijing on Tuesday that the two trading partners would work to keep the latest tit-for-tat spats from escalating into an all-out trade war.
"We have trade disputes with a lot of countries with whom we have very close economic ties and they have trade disputes with us," said Robert Hormats, US Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs.
"I think we will do and China will do everything we can to avoid a trade war."