China urges Trump to avoid 'trade war'
The Chinese government has appealed to US president Donald Trump to avoid a "trade war" ahead of the possible announcement of an investigation into whether China is stealing American technology.
Mr Trump is set to order his trade office launch a probe under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 into the possible Chinese theft of US technology and intellectual property.
In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "There is no future and no winner in a trade war, and both sides will be the losers.
"As we have emphasised for many times, the nature of China-US trade relations is mutual benefit and win-win.
"Considering the importance of the China-US relations, China is willing to make joint efforts with the United States to keep trade and economic relations on sustained, healthy and stable development on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit."
State newspaper the China Daily said Mr Trump's possible decision to launch an investigation could "intensify tensions", especially over intellectual property.
A decision to use the law to re-balance trade with China "could trigger a trade war", according to the commentary under the name of researcher Mei Xinyu, of the ministry's international trade and economic co-operation institute.
It added: "And the inquiry the US administration has ordered into China's trade policies, if carried out, could intensify tensions, especially on intellectual property rights."
It gave no indication of how Beijing might respond, but Chinese law gives regulators broad discretion over what foreign companies can do in China.
If an investigation begins, Washington could seek remedies either through the World Trade Organisation or outside of it.
Previous US actions directed at China under the 1974 law had little effect, said the China Daily.
It noted that China has grown to become the biggest exporter and has the world's largest foreign exchange reserves.
The newspaper added: "The use of Section 301 by the US will not have much impact on China's progress toward stronger economic development and a better future."