BEIJING (Reuters) - China's commerce ministry said on Friday that deepening commercial cooperation with the United States will not change when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January, but warned against moves that could hurt bilateral trade ties.
Trump made trade a centrepiece of his presidential campaign and railed against what he said were bad deals the United States had made with other countries. He has threatened to hit Mexico and China with high tariffs once he takes office on Jan. 20.
Shen Danyang, the spokesman for the ministry, told a news briefing in Beijing that the U.S. government will continue to see mutual benefits from trade with China.
"China-U.S. trade is beneficial to both countries," Shen said. "Don't do things that hurt others with no benefit to yourself."
Chinese state media on Friday expressed alarm and warned of a "showdown with the U.S." after Trump named Peter Navarro, an economist who has urged a hard line against China, to head a new White House National Trade Council.
China has said it would defend its rights under World Trade Organization tariff rules if Trump moves toward executing his campaign threats to levy punitive duties on goods made in China.
The global trading body prohibits members from unilaterally raising tariffs above levels that they have committed to maintain.
"We oppose the idea of making others take medicine when one is sick. This has happened in the past and could happen in the future," Shen said, without elaborating.
Reporting by Elias Glenn; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Michael Perry