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  • Shipping containers are seen at a port in Shanghai, China July 10, 2018.

    Shipping containers are seen at a port in Shanghai, China July 10, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 September 2018

U.S. tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory tariffs by Beijing on US$60 billion worth of U.S. products took effect at midday Asian time, though the initial level of the duties was not as high as earlier feared.

China and the United States can compete but should not view each other with a Cold War mentality and should avoid falling into a zero-sum game trap, the Chinese government's top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi said in a diplomatic document released Tuesday.

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Wang made the comments to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during a meeting on Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The United States and China imposed fresh tariffs on each other's goods on Monday as the world's biggest economies showed no signs of backing down from an increasingly bitter trade dispute that is expected to hit global economic growth.

Soon after the new duties went into effect, China accused the United States of engaging in "tradebullyism" in a 71-page report released on Monday and said it was intimidating other countries to submit to its will, the official Xinhua news agency said, reiterating China's willingness to fight if necessary.

"China does not want a trade war, but it is not afraid of one and will fight one if necessary," Beijing said in the document. "We have a highly resilient economy, an enormous market, and the hard-working, talented and united Chinese people. We also have the support of all countries in the world that reject protectionism, unilateralism and hegemony."

"The US government has taken extreme trade protectionist measures, which have undermined the international economic order, caused damage to China-US trade and trade relations around the world, disrupted the global value chain and the international division of labor, upset market expectations, and led to violent swings in the international financial and commodity markets. It has become the greatest source of uncertainty and risk for the recovery of the global economy," the report said.

But Beijing also said it was willing to restart trade negotiations with the United States if the talks are "based on mutual respect and equality," Xinhua said, citing a white paper on the dispute published by China's State Council.

China, which has accused Washington of being insincere in the negotiations, has decided not to send Vice Premier Liu He to Washington this week, the Wall Street Journal reported late last week.

News of Beijing's decision to skip the talks pushed China's yuan currency down 0.3 percent on Monday in offshore trade, reinforcing investors' fears that both sides are digging in for a long fight. Mainland China markets were closed for a holiday.

China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and postponed military talks in protest against a U.S. decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a missile system.

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