China minister says trade war with US would be 'disastrous'

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China minister says trade war with US would be 'disastrous'
In this March 5, 2018 photo, a worker manipulates coils of steel at Xiwang Special Steel in Zouping County in eastern China's Shandong province. China says it "firmly opposes" U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff increase for imported steel and aluminum but gave no indication whether Beijing might impose its own measures in response. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — China says it will not initiate a “disastrous” trade war with the United States, but is vowing to defend its national interests in the face of growing American protectionism.

The statement made by China’s Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan on Sunday is the latest response to President Donald Trump’s plan to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Chinese leaders have threatened in the past to retaliate against raised trade barriers, but have yet to take direct action following Trump’s announcement.

Zhong said at a briefing during a meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature that the U.S. has been overstating its trade deficit with China by about 20 percent every year. The commerce minister also blamed the trade imbalance in part on controls over U.S. high-tech exports to China.