The two nations are edging towards a trade fight that analysts say would undermine both their economies and likely slow global growth.

Shipping containers sit on the the Hong Kong based CSCL East China Sea container ship at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2018 in Oakland, California.
Shipping containers sit on the the Hong Kong based CSCL East China Sea container ship at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2018 in Oakland, California. (AFP)

China has accused the United States of using pressure tactics and blackmail in threatening to impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports.

Trump's proposed tariffs would amount to the latest round of punitive steps in an escalating rift between the world's two largest economies.

The two nations are edging towards a trade fight that analysts say would undermine both their economies and likely slow global growth.

"The US is abusing the tariff methods and starting trade wars all around the world," said Gao Feng, spokesman of Chinese Ministry of Commerce at a press conference on Thursday.

"This will seriously damage the world trade order, undermine the interests of trade partners and the interests of its own enterprises and people," Gao said.

The White House has accused China of forcing US companies to share advanced technology with Chinese partners as a condition of doing business there.

China denied the accusation, saying the statement "seriously distorted history and reality."

Earlier in a statement the Ministry of Commerce said "If the US becomes irrational and issues this list (of tariffs), China will have no choice but to adopt strong countermeasures of the same amount and quality."

The spokesman declined to elaborate what exactly the countermeasures would be.

Trump has ordered tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods in response to Beijing's forced transfer of US technology and alleged intellectual property theft and threatened to impose duties on up to $400 billion more in Chinese goods.

China matched the initial tariffs but hasn't yet imposed more on US exports.

Gao told reporters that China opposes the US "act of extreme pressure and blackmail by swinging the big stick of trade protectionism."

Source: AP