The US has been continuously "causing troubles" for the Chinese steel sector, so China must "have the guts to say no to them" and find their weak spots, said an official of the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) on Thursday.
Liu Zhenjiang, secretary-general of CISA, said that the association will resolutely cope with the challenges triggered by the US and fully support countermeasures the Chinese government takes, according to an article posted on the official website of CISA.
Liu's comment came as tensions escalated between China and the US, which announced trade measures against Chinese exports, including steel.
Also on Thursday, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) reiterated China's stance against proposed US tariffs on Chinese goods and urged the US to stop "threatening."
China opposes the unilateral and protectionist actions taken by the US, and will resolutely defend the interests of China and its people, Gao Feng, spokesperson of MOFCOM, told a press conference.
The US threatened a 25 percent tariff on a proposed list of goods worth $50 billion in April, and it will hold a hearing related to the tariff on May 15.
The list involves the aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics and machinery industries, and it targets about 1,300 Chinese products.
"The US does not want China to become strong. They first find trouble in the Chinese steel industry, since China's steel production accounts for half of the world's total," Liu said, noting the US blames others for its unsuccessful steel production.
On March 19, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) announced it would terminate an antitrust case, also known as a Section 337 investigation, against Chinese steel companies.
The USITC stated that the US steel company that initiated the complaint failed to prove it had suffered antitrust damages.
Commenting on the ruling, Liu noted that "we refuted all three cases with a large number of facts and evidence, one by one. A strong steel country should have the capability of winning in international competition."
US Steel Corp, the largest steel company in the US, filed three cases involving 40 Chinese steelmakers with the USITC in 2016 April. The US company claimed antitrust activity, theft of business secrets and false designation of origin.
The probes into the theft of business secrets and designation of origin were terminated in February and November 2017, respectively.
Liu said that losses from Sino-US trade friction couldn't be understated. Chinese steel exports to the US fell 25 percent in the first quarter of 2018 due to the investigations, and China's total steel exports decreased 30 percent year-on-year in 2017.
"To deal with challenges from the US, we must prepare for a protracted war. Trade friction is just a prelude. Restraining China is the US' ultimate strategy," said Liu.
In an effort to avert what could become an disastrous trade war, Chinese and US officials have been holding negotiations to resolve the disputes. But so far, no concrete progress have been announced.
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