China will hit back at any new US tariffs: ministry

China will hit back at any new US tariffs: ministry

Beijing: China's foreign ministry said Monday it would strike back at the US if Washington moved forward with new tariffs on $200 billion of its exports.

"If the US launches any new tariff measures, China will have to take countermeasures to firmly ensure our legitimate rights and interests," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing.

The two countries have been embroiled for months in a trade conflict that has threatened to hurt consumers in both countries. Trump has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in goods from China.

Last week Beijing welcomed Washington's offer to hold fresh trade talks and said the two sides were discussing details, providing some hope the world's top two economies could step back from the brink of an all-out trade war.

But over the weekend the Wall Street Journal reported US President Trump planned to announce tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods early this week and that the move could cause Chinese officials to cancel the talks.

The US imports around $500 billion in goods from China.

The news sent Chinese stocks tumbling on Monday more than one percent with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index falling to 2,651.79, the lowest level since 2014.

"An escalating trade conflict serves no one's interests," Geng said.

"We have always stated that negotiations on the basis of equality, honesty and mutual respect represent the only right way out of the current trade issue between China and the US," said Geng.

In response to President Trump's threatened tariffs, Beijing has teed up tariffs of five to 25 percent on $60 billion of US goods including pig hides, cocoa butter and condoms.