"A trade war would not benefit either country or either country's people; you could say it would have no advantage whatsoever," Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said, Reuters reported.
He also cautioned against misunderstanding the symbiotic relationship between the two economic giants.
"Many American and western friends think that China can't live without the United States but that's only half true," he said. "At the same time, the United States can't live without China." He pointed out that US exports to China have grown more over the past 10 years than have Chinese exports to the US.
Zhong also reported that China's exports in January and February were 4% higher than in the same period last year, with imports more than 26% higher. But the potential for a protectionist US and other economic uncertainties make the overall outlook unclear, he said.
The commerce secretary also commented that he was looking forward to meeting new US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying that as an "experienced negotiator," his counterpart must be willing to "play the long game and think strategically." Ross is also known as a lover of Chinese art and culture.
Ross told Bloomberg Television a few days ago, "we've been in a trade war [with China] for decades, that's why we have the [US budget] deficits." He also said he expects to begin renegotiating the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement in the coming weeks.