China vowed to fight back and defend its interests if the U.S. takes any protective measures, after President Donald Trump ordered a probe into Beijing's trade practices.
If the U.S. takes any actions that harm bilateral economic and trade relationships, "China definitely won't sit back and watch," an unnamed spokesperson said in a statement posted on the ministry's website Tuesday.
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"China will absolutely take appropriate actions to defend its legitimate rights," the spokesperson said.
Mr. Trump on Monday directed aides to explore the prospect of sanctioning Beijing for the "unfair" acquisition of American high technology.
The directive was the first formal China trade action taken by a president who has long blasted the country for improperly aggressive commercial practices.
In Tuesday's statement, China's commerce ministry said in recent years, the government has tried to make it easier for foreign companies to do business in China and strengthen protection of intellectual property.
The ministry said it hoped the U.S. trade representatives can act cautiously.
Since the meeting between the two presidents in April, the two countries have established a dialogue mechanism, the statement said.
The U.S. should treasure the current cooperation between the two governments, the ministry said.
"Any protectionism measures will harm bilateral economic and trade relationships and the interests of companies from both countries," it said.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 14, 2017 22:31 ET (02:31 GMT)