BEIJING - China is preparing a range of responses to planned US tariffs and will stand up to protectionism, but still hopes for dialogue, Beijing's ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Thursday.
Zhang Xiangchen said China was considering a WTO complaint against the package of tariffs that President Donald Trump was expected to announce later on Thursday.
"This is a legitimate right for China to do that. But I would not exclude other options because, if the flood approaches, you have to bank up to keep it out," he told Reuters.
Zhang spoke before a senior White House official said Trump would sign a memorandum later on Thursday to potentially slap tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports over forced transfer of intellectual property.
The announcement is the first in a string of US trade restrictions to be aimed squarely at China .
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday the tariffs would target China 's high-technology sector and could also include restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States.
Trump's protectionist trade policies have already caused a global outcry this year.
In January, he slapped steep import tariffs on solar panels and washing machines and this month worldwide steel and aluminium tariffs have followed, justified by a claim to "national security" under a Cold War-era law.
The European Union, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil and South Korea won exemptions from the steel and aluminium tariffs, Canada and Mexico, Lighthizer said on Thursday.
Asked about the exemptions, Zhang said that "appeasement of protectionism" would not work. "If you surrender to protectionism, you will lose your credibility."
The United States hopes that the national security claim will make the steel and aluminium tariffs immune to a challenge, but Zhang said they failed to pass the WTO test of being "essential" for national security.
"No one has seen the essential national security rationale behind the US measures," he said. "Even the senior officials of the United States fail to hide the real reasons." - Agencies