BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday comments made by a senior White House official blaming Chinese President Xi Jinping for blocking progress on a deal to avert a trade war were “shocking” and “bogus” accusations.
The United States and China this month slapped tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imports in an escalating trade tussle that has roiled financial markets.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened further tariffs unless Beijing agrees to change its intellectual property practices and high-technology industrial subsidy plans.
On Wednesday, Larry Kudlow, who heads the White House Economic Council, said that he believed lower-ranking Chinese officials want a deal, including Xi’s senior economic adviser Liu He, but that Xi has refused to make changes to China’s technology transfer and other trade policies.
Asked about Kudlow’s comments, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “That the relevant United States official unexpectedly distorted the facts and made bogus accusations is shocking and beyond imagination.”
“The United States’ flip-flopping and promise-breaking is recognized globally,” she told a regular briefing in Beijing.
China has made the utmost efforts to avoid an escalation of trade frictions, Hua said, reiterating that China does not want a trade war but is not afraid of one.
Kudlow said on Wednesday that Xi was “holding the game up.”
“I think Liu He and others would like to move but haven’t,” he said at a conference. “We are waiting for him (Xi). The ball is in his court.”
China could end U.S. tariffs “this afternoon by providing a more satisfactory approach” and taking steps that other countries are also calling for, he said.
China’s other trading partners, including the European Union, while not supporting tariffs, have also criticized Beijing’s trade policies.
China has blamed Washington for the trade conflict, with the foreign ministry calling it the biggest “confidence killer” for the global economy, and vowing to fight back if the United States continued to be “wilful”.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Darren Schuettler)