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China warns US against tariffs as trade talks end

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US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (R) as they pose for photographers after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, 03 June 2018.

[BEIJING] China warned the US that any deals reached during ongoing trade talks would be void if Washington went ahead with imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, as the latest round of negotiations ended on Sunday in Beijing.

The third round of trade talks between the world's two largest economies appeared to fall short of bridging the gap between Beijing and Washington, which are at loggerheads over Chinese trade and industrial policy practices that US President Donald Trump says kill American jobs.

"If the US introduces trade sanctions including tariff increases, all economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties so far will be void," said a Chinese government statement issued by the official Xinhua news agency.

The discussions in Beijing, led by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, were intended to ease tensions after Washington said Tuesday it would follow through with tariffs on Chinese imports despite a truce reached between the two sides last month.

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The consensus reached in Washington called on China to increase agricultural and energy imports from the US. Beijing said "positive and concrete progress" was made on those issues with details left for "both sides to finalise".

The visit from the large US delegation, with members from several executive branch agencies, came as fears of an all-out global trade war intensified after the European Union, Canada and Mexico drew up retaliatory measures to Washington's stinging steel and aluminium tariffs that went into effect on Friday.

On Saturday, Washington's main allies delivered a unified message of shock and dismay at a Group of Seven ministerial meeting, urging President Trump to rescind the punishing metal tariffs.

The planned US trade sanctions on Beijing include restrictions on Chinese investment, export controls and 25 percent tariffs on US$50 billion in tech goods.

The White House has said it would announce a final list of Chinese imports covered by the US tariffs on June 15, with the other measures to follow later this month.

Beijing warned all the commitments it had made so far were premised on "not fighting a trade war". China has also threatened to hit back with tit-for-tat tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in US goods.

But even as Beijing has maintained it will not back down, it has announced conciliatory measures like lowering tariffs on auto and consumer good imports to address some of the Trump Administration's concerns.

"Our meetings so far have been friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items," Mr Ross told the Chinese trade team led by Mr Liu, President Xi Jinping's right hand-man on economic issues, on Sunday morning.

AFP