China says trade war with United States would bring disaster to world economy

California bound Trump heading to state he loves to hate

China has repeatedly vowed to defend its "legitimate rights and interests" if targeted by USA trade actions.

Any trade war with the United States will only bring disaster to the world economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said on Sunday, as Beijing stepped up its criticism on proposed metals tariffs by Washington amid fears it could shatter global growth.

Chinese leaders have threatened in the past to retaliate against raised trade barriers, but have yet to take direct action following Trump's announcement.

Zhong added that the USA trade deficit with China is overestimated by about 20%, citing research by a panel tasked with investigating the discrepancy between the two nations' accounts of their trade balance.

Calling steelworkers the "backbone of America", Trump called steel vital to U.S. national security.

Part of the reason for the trade gap, Zhong said, was that the United States had restricted hi-tech exports to China. He instead blamed the imbalance on United States controls over high-tech exports to China.

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.

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"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 United States dropped restrictions on high tech exports to China it would further reduce the surplus by 35 percent".

Liu He, Chinese President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, visited Washington earlier this month in an attempt to smooth strained ties.

Should the situation worsen, however, Zhong said that China was more than ready.

China absorbed $136.3 billion in foreign investment previous year.

"We have noticed that some foreign-funded businesses have complained about China's investment environment", Zhong said.

The commerce minister reiterated Premier Li Keqiang's promise on Monday to liberalize the manufacturing industry and expand the opening up of sectors such as medical care, education and new energy vehicles.

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