China trade deficit figure overestimated by about 20 pct: commerce minister

Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan says a trade war could could shatter global economic growth

A trade war between China and the United States would be disastrous not only for the two countries involved, but also the rest of the world, Beijing warned on Sunday.

China has repeatedly vowed to defend its "legitimate rights and interests" if targeted by United States trade actions. "But we can handle any challenge, and will firmly defend the interests of our nation and our people", he said.

Zhong said that cooperation is the only choice for the 2 countries.

This could be further cut by 35 per cent if the United States lifts the ban on high-tech exports to China, he added. "Further, the tariffs would seriously impact the normal order of global trade", Xinhua reported.

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Zhong blamed the trade imbalance in part on controls over USA high-tech exports to China, repeating a Chinese claim that Washington could narrow its trade deficit if it allowed Beijing to buy more "dual use" technology such as supercomputers and advanced materials with military applications.

More than 150,000 buyers from home and overseas are expected at the event, he said.

The CIIE is one of four major global events to be hosted by China this year, along with the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in June and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in September. The figure for February fell slightly from the previous month to US$21 billion, according to the latest data from the customs administration.

Trade tensions between China and the U.S. have risen since Mr Trump took office.

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"We are not only talking for now, we will continue to talk in the future", he said.

On Thursday, Trump announced he was ordering the imposition of a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum, but indicated certain countries might be exempted.

There was still "no immediate clarity on the exact U.S. procedure on exemption", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said after the meeting that also included Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko.

Mr Trump said on Saturday the United States was "working very quickly on a security agreement" so as not to impose the tariffs on "our ally, the great nation of Australia".

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In response to that, China expressed "opposition" to the tariffs imposed by the United States on the imports of steel and aluminum, saying the move will undermine normal worldwide trade order.

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