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A trade war between China and the United States would bring disaster to the global economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan has warned.

China has refused to indulge in a trade war with the United States on Sunday, saying that it would bring disaster to the global economy.

China has repeatedly vowed to defend its "legitimate rights and interests" if targeted by United States trade actions. "However, we are capable of handling any challenge, and we resolutely defend the interest of the country and the people".

Zhong said the United States has overestimated its trade deficit with China by around 20 percent every year, adding the two countries have different ways of calculating trade figures.

China accounts for only a small fraction of U.S. steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has lowered prices.

The United States and China are scheduled to hold trade talks in Beijing in the near future. China doesn't want a trade war, and will not start a trade war first. But Zhong said communications have not been completely broken off.

"We are still in talks, and we are sure that both sides will continue to talk about the next step", he added.

The country will also work to promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment along the Belt and Road, while carrying out major foreign aid projects including the Happy Home Projects, the Anti-Poverty Projects and the Health Recovery Projects, Zhong said. "As a close security and trade partner of the USA, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", she said.

It was Beijing's latest statement on "problems in Sino-U.S. economic trade and cooperation", alluding to President Donald Trump's plan to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heralded his nation's exemption last Saturday morning following a phone call with Trump, which he described as "a very good and productive discussion".

China's metals industry issued the country's most explicit threat yet in the row, urging the government to retaliate by targeting United States coal - a sector central to Mr Trump's political base and his election pledge to restore United States industries and blue-collar jobs.