China said on Thursday it would retaliate if Washington raises customs duties on goods imported from China on the eve of a decisive round of negotiations to end the trade war between the two countries.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry said it would be forced to take the "necessary countermeasures" if US President Donald Trump would keep his promise and increase customs duties on the equivalent of 200 billion (€ 178.4 billion) of goods imported from the Asian country.
The Chinese authorities, who did not detail what the retaliatory measures will be, have pointed out that escalating disputes are "not in the interest" of the two countries or the world.
The major global financial markets are turbulent this week after Trump announced a rate hike as early as Friday.
The US president said negotiations with Beijing were moving at a "very slow" pace and accused China of trying to "pull back" on previous commitments.
"China deeply regrets, but if the US imposes customs duties, China will have to take the necessary countermeasures," the ministry said in a statement.
The governments of the world's two largest economies have already imposed customs duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of their exports. This is Beijing's policy for the technology sector, which aims to transform the country's state-owned firms into important global players in high-value-added sectors such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy, robotics and electric cars.
The US considers that the Chinese-led plan violates China's commitments to open up its market, notably by forcing foreign companies to transfer technology and subsidizing domestic enterprises while protecting them from foreign competition.
In addition to raising customs duties on US imports, Chinese officials have retaliated by hampering the operations of US companies in China.
Chinese customs have already softened customs clearance for US products, while regulators have delayed issuing licenses for US companies to operate in their financial sector.
Beijing has a number of other weapons, including a tax increase or anti-monopoly investigations, which may hinder the operations of US companies in its market.
China's pledge of retaliation further heightens tension, on the eve of Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He's meeting in Washington with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin .