China tries to ease fears that Beijing may target U.S. firms

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In the brewing trade war between the USA and China, Beijing officials consistently seek to portray their nation as simply being on the defensive against Donald Trump's aggressive tactics.

ASIAN ANGST The ongoing angst over U.S. President Donald Trump's trade tariffs had extended the recent slide in Asian markets overnight, in particular Chinese shares which are now deep into "bear" market territory.

"The US has provoked this trade war, we do not want to fight it, but in order to safeguard the interests of the country and the people, we have no choice but to fight", Chinese commerce ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said on Thursday.

Economists have for months warned of the potential damage to the U.S. and global economies from aggressive trade policies that evolve into protectionism, which would raise prices and upend global supply chains.

On April 3, the United States released a list of targets for proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, taking aim at high-tech and industrial goods.

"U.S. measures are essentially attacking global supply and value chains".

If China responds, the prepared to extend those tariffs to $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

However, China's finance ministry did say on Wednesday that it will "absolutely not" fire the first shot in a trade war with the United States and will not be the first to levy tariffs.

Mercedes-maker Daimler, BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen raced up as much as 5 percent after reports of a US offer to suspend tariff threats on European Union -made cars if the bloc lifts its duties on USA ones.

An American company that ships cherries to a coastal province in southeast China recently encountered a new hurdle at the border: Customs officers ordered a load into quarantine for a week, so it spoiled and was sent back to the United States.

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Chinese stock fell Wednesday due to fears of a looming trade war.

The spokesman added that the "US is shooting itself in the foot and hurting the world" with its tariff hikes.

China is putting pressure on the EU to issue a strong joint statement against President Trump's trade policies at the summit but is facing resistance, European officials said.

The first round of US tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products is scheduled to take effect July 6, and China has pledged to push back with levvies on an equal number of American exports. You're familiar with the Chinese telecom firm ZTE.

A USA industry source said: "There is a 99 per cent chance that tariffs go into force on Friday".

"I'm afraid not, for now", said Tu Xinquan, a trade expert at Beijing's University of International Business and Economics, who has advised the Chinese government. China vowed to match USA moves, using both quantitative and qualitative measures.

"An open trade war with the US, which now seems imminent, would put a damper on China's push to straighten up its economy and to increase its global economic and geopolitical influence", Prasad said. If the US tariffs come in at midnight on Friday US time, that's midday Friday in Beijing.

Beijing plans to fire back by hitting 545 American products such as SUVs, meat and seafood.

A senior Western diplomat told Reuters that there was no sign of any talks at the moment between the two countries, even via back channels.