China says still talking with US on trade

Trump's tariff plans have drawn threats of retaliation from China and other nations (AFP Photo/-) (AFP)

Beijing (AFP) - China's commerce minister said Sunday that Beijing and Washington are still holding economic talks as he warned that a trade war would harm both nations.

President Xi Jinping's top economic advisor, Liu He, held trade discussions with US officials at the White House earlier this month but the meetings yielded few breakthroughs.

US President Donald Trump has since announced tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, drawing threats of retaliation from China and other nations.

"We are continuing our discussions," Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said during a press conference held on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session underway in Beijing.

"Because no one is willing to start a trade war, and everyone knows trade wars hurt others without helping themselves," Zhong said.

That may not reflect the current mood in Washington. Last week, Trump tweeted the US could win a trade war.

Zhong also took issue with the statistics behind the trade imbalance -- which showed a record $375.2 billion US deficit with China during Trump's first year in office.

He cited American government research that he said showed the figure for the surplus in China's favour overstated by roughly 20 percent and said that if the US dropped restrictions on high tech exports to China it would further reduce the surplus by 35 percent.

"There is still much for us to do, one side cannot call the shots, we need to work hard together," Zhong said.