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Report: China tells US it will defend trade interests on call

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China will defend its trade interests, as U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled plans to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports, Reuters reported, citing Chinese press reports.

In a telephone call March 24 between the two state representatives, Liu said Beijing hopes both countries would remain "rational" and maintain stable trade relations, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.

On March 23, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it filed a consultation request with the World Trade Organization to address China's alleged "unfair technology practices" that violate WTO rules and discriminate against imported foreign technology. The action follows an eight-month U.S. inquiry that found that China forces technology transfers from U.S. companies to Chinese companies.

In response, Liu said the investigation report "violates international trade rules and is beneficial to neither Chinese interests, U.S. interests nor global interests." China's Ministry of Commerce had announced plans to impose a 15% tariff on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports, including 128 products across seven categories in response to a separate set of tariffs that Trump is imposing on steel and aluminum imports.

Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of Beijing-based think tank China Center for International Economic Exchanges and a former Chinese vice minister of commerce, told China Daily that China could impose tariffs on more U.S. products — including aircraft, chips and tourism — and is looking at a second or third list of targets.

During the high-profile China Development Forum in Beijing on March 24, Lou Jiwei, chairman of China's National Council for Social Security Fund and a former Chinese finance minister, said the Chinese commerce ministry's response was "relatively weak," and suggested targeting soybeans, automobiles and airplanes.