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Apr 3, 2018

CNBC | Chinese ambassador to US: We will take measues to fight back very soon.

cnbc.com

Chinese ambassador to US: We will take measures to fight back very soon

Huileng Tan, Seema Mody

Speaking with CNBC, China's ambassador to the United States said his country would strike back against U.S. trade measures "very soon."
"We will certainly respond accordingly," said ambassador Cui Tiankai. "We will resort to the WTO — World Trade Organization — dispute settlement mechanism, and we'll, in accordance with Chinese laws, take measures to fight back."
"We certainly don't want to have any trade war with anybody, but people have to understand who started all this," he subsequently told CNBC.
Cui's comments came after President Donald Trump's White House unveiled a list Tuesday of Chinese imports the administration proposes to target as part of a crackdown on what the president deems unfair trade practices.
The world's second-largest economy will take steps against the new U.S. measures "maybe with the same intensity, the same scale," the ambassador said.
Sectors covered by the White House's proposed tariffs include products used for robotics, information technology, communication technology and aerospace.

Technology transfers

Officials in Washington and other countries accuse China of unfair trade practices, including a failure to protect intellectual property. An increasingly hot-button issue is Beijing's practice of requiring foreign companies to hand over technological know-how in exchange for access to its domestic market.
Asked by CNBC about those allegations, the ambassador claimed the United States has failed to cite specific instances of when China has forced U.S. firms to hand over technology in order to do business in China.
China has been broadly accused by companies from outside the country of forcing them to undertake "technology transfers" in order to operate there. Beijing also forces many foreign companies into joint ventures with Chinese partners before allowing them access to its market.
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai speaks at a reception celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C., the United States, on July 27, 2017. Ting Shen | Xinhua | Getty Images
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai speaks at a reception celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C., the United States, on July 27, 2017.
Cui did not elaborate to CNBC about any specific details of what Beijing may do to counter the latest U.S. trade moves.
A White House official who declined to be named told CNBC that the government is discussing both preparations for potential Chinese retaliation and potential further action from the U.S.
The White House feels that China has to be held to account, the official said, emphasizing that Tuesday's actions were "targeted with a clear message."
The ambassador, however, questioned the efficacy of the U.S. trade approach.
"We have done the utmost to avoid this kind of situation, but if the other side makes the wrong choice, then we have no alternative but to fight back."
"Such protectionism will not protect anybody. It will not protect American workers or American farmers. It will not protect American businesses or American consumers," Cui said. "It will hurt everybody including the U.S. economy itself."
The Chinese diplomat said the two economies "are so closely interconnected" that "any unilateral measures will hurt the other side, but the end result would be that it would hurt itself."
"We have done the utmost to avoid this kind of situation, but if the other side makes the wrong choice, then we have no alternative but to fight back," he added.
But even beyond the economic effects to the two countries, Cui warned of a broader fallout from the trade disputes.
"In today's global economy, almost everything is interconnected. So when people take some wrong measures, when people take some protectionist measure, it will hurt people's confidence in the overall prospects for the economy. It may hurt finance, it may hurt trade, it may hurt economic performance, it may hurt consumer confidence — everything," he said.
Still, the ambassador left the door open for a deescalation between the world's two largest economies: "We are always ready to continue and intensify our dialogue and communication with the U.S. side on any possible economic or trade issues, but we need reciprocity. Our goodwill has to be met by the same degree of goodwill."
—CNBC's Eamon Javers contributed to this report.