BEIJING - China tried yesterday to allay fears of a trade war with Washington over tire tariffs, saying it will press a World Trade Organization case against new US duties but wants to avoid harming relations.
“US and Chinese trade and economic relations are the most important bilateral relations. We don’t want to see anything bad happen to bilateral relations,’’ said a Commerce Ministry spokesman, Yao Jian.
Beijing filed a WTO complaint Monday challenging the higher tariffs on US imports of Chinese-made tires as a violation of free-trade rules. President Obama approved the duties Friday to slow the rapid growth of imports that a labor union blamed for the loss of thousands of US jobs.
The case adds to a string of trade disputes at a time when Beijing and Washington are cooperating on sensitive issues including efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear program.
Beijing’s unusually prompt response to the tire tariffs showed the urgency Chinese leaders attach to maintaining exports and jobs amid weak global demand.