China will respond quickly to protect itself if the US hurts its interests with fresh trade tariffs, a foreign ministry spokesman has said.
China accused the United States of firing the first shot on Friday when the White House confirmed that it would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
In Beijing on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeated earlier warnings that all trade talks between China and the US would be void if Washington imposed trade sanctions.
The US says its tariffs on Chinese goods come in response to what it categorises as theft of intellectual property.
The US wants China to stop practices that allegedly encourage transfer of intellectual property – design and product ideas – to Chinese companies, such as requirements that foreign firms share ownership with local partners to access the Chinese market.
The announcement confirms a threat first made by President Donald Trump in March and follows months of trade talks between the two sides. A truce was announced in May but it proved short-lived.