"China doesn't want to fight a trade war, nor would we take initiatives to ignite a trade war", he said. "But we can handle any challenge, and will firmly defend the interests of our nation and our people".
Citing Chinese researchers, Zhong said the USA has been overstating its trade deficit with China by about 20 percent every year. "Further, the tariffs would seriously impact the normal order of global trade", Xinhua reported.
Trump's announcement on tariffs underlined concerns about rising United States protectionism, which has sparked bouts of turmoil in global financial markets over the past year as investors feared a damaging trade spat will shatter a synchronized uptick in world growth.
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In 2017, trade volume between China and countries along the Belt and Road amounted to 7.4 trillion yuan (about 1.2 trillion US dollars), surging 17.8 percent year on year, outpacing the 14.2-percent increase in China's total foreign trade last year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on February 28. But Zhong said communications have not been completely broken off.
"There are no winners in a trade war", Zhong said.
The US is the world's biggest importer of steel, purchasing 35 million tonnes of raw material in 2017.
Seko asks U.S. to exclude Japan from metal tariffs
The administration clarified this week that Canada , where the US gets most of its steel , would be exempt, as would Mexico. South Korea's trade minister appealed to other governments to prevent the dispute from spiraling into a " trade war ".
While he declined to say how Beijing planned to respond to the tariffs imposed by Washington on aluminium and steel imports, he said the two sides remained in talks on the issue. "As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", she said.
China has threatened to retaliate against increased trade barriers in the past but has yet to announce any new measures in response to Trump's tariffs.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heralded his nation's exemption last Saturday morning following a phone call with Trump, which he described as "a very good and productive discussion".
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This comes after U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a proclamation that sets the tariff on imports of steel at 25% and on aluminum at 10%, to be effected in 15 days.