Speaking at a briefing on the sidelines of China's annual parliamentary session, the country's Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan has warned that there would be "no winners" in a trade war between Beijing and Washington.
"It would bring disaster to our two countries as well as the rest of the world," he pointed out.
At the same time, Zhong signaled Beijing's readiness to uphold China's national interests.
"China does not wish to fight a trade war, nor will China initiate a trade war, but we can handle any challenge and will resolutely defend the interests of our country and our people," he said.
The statement came a few days after US President Donald Trump's announcement that he would raise tariffs on steel and aluminum imports by 25 and 10 percent, respectively.
Trade tensions between the US and China have been simmering since Trump's election campaign in 2016, when he accused Beijing of currency manipulation and proposed raising the issue of its commitment to the rules of the World Trade Organization.
Trump also promised to slap a 45-percent tariff on cheap imports from China, which he said add significantly to unemployment in the United States.