By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Vice Foreign Minster Zhang Hanhui said on Thursday deliberately provoking trade disputes amounted to “naked economic terrorism”, as Beijing continued to dial up its rhetoric amid the festering trade war with the United States.
Zhang made the remarks in response to a question about the trade war during a briefing on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Russia next week.
“This kind of deliberately provoking trade disputes is naked economic terrorism, economic homicide, economic bullying,” he told reporters.
From combative missives in state media and patriotic fervour on social media, to a mobilisation of ambassadors around the world to get its message out, China has intensified its criticism of Washington since the U.S. this month moved to increase tariffs on Chinese imports and blacklisted tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.
On Thursday, a broadcaster from Chinese state television and a Fox Business host staged an unprecedented live debate about the China-U.S. frictions on the U.S. cable network.
“There are no winners in a trade war. No winners,” Zhang said.
“We oppose a trade war but are not afraid of a trade war,” he added, repeating a common refrain from Chinese officials and state media.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by John Ruwitch; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)