A paramilitary police officer stands guard in front of red flags at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

China Warns of `Strong' Measures to Counter Trump's Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- China will take “strong” measures to protect its own interests, the Ministry of Commerce said in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The measures will be based on evaluation of the potential losses triggered by the U.S. trade actions, the ministry said in a statement on its website Friday.

"China urges the U.S. to respect the authority of the multilateral trade system, and repeal the measures as soon as possible," it said.

China’s exports surged and its trade surplus unexpectedly widened in February, illustrating the lopsided nature of global commerce that Donald Trump is preparing to introduce protectionist measures against. China said the U.S. is sabotaging the multilateral system represented by the World Trade Organization, and its actions will “seriously shake” the global trade order.

The comments follow those of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who Thursday criticized the U.S.’s decision to brand the country as a “strategic competitor” and dismissed the notion that it poses a threat to the world’s biggest economy. Wang told a briefing on the sidelines of China’s national legislative session that the designation included in recent Trump administration national security documents was “fundamentally wrong.”

Trade tensions may be set to deepen further. The U.S. is said to be considering clamping down on Chinese investment and imposing tariffs on a broad range of goods to punish Beijing over unfair intellectual-property practices as part of an ongoing U.S. investigation ordered by Trump.

Worsening trade ties will test China’s policy of "strategic composure" in dealing with Trump’s America First ethos.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Miao Han