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He made the comments during a news briefing as part of the annual meeting of China's parliament in Beijing on Thursday.

Wang said China had a long way to go on its path of modernisation, and that it "will not and need not displace the United States". But the tariffs may be the first foray in the brewing American trade war with Beijing.

Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies have risen since Trump took office.

"Some people in the United States believe that China therefore wants to replace the role of the USA in the global arena". A $1 billion reduction is a drop in the bucket considering the fact that the USA trade deficit with China in 2017 was $375 million.

China's Ministry of Commerce said China would assess any damage caused by the USA move and "firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests".

"The bigger picture is that while China's trade surplus with most of the world has declined during the past year...its surplus with the USA has continued to expand", said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China Economist at Capital Economics in a note.

Bambawale met with Wu Hailong, President of Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), in Beijing, the Indian Embassy here tweeted.

Capital Economics estimates China's exports of steel and aluminium to the United States account for less than 0.1 per cent of its gross domestic product, as both are already limited by anti-dumping measures. China accounts for only a small fraction of US steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.

A senior South Korean official said the tariffs would impact the renegotiation of the bilateral free trade deal with the United States that is now underway.

"On paper, China has more to lose from a trade war it exports far more to the U.S. than it imports".

While many act as if Trump's actions will start a massive trade war that will destroy the United States and the world economy, they ignore the fact that doing nothing to punish unfair trade will hurt the world economy.

The US president was expected to approve the 25% levy on steel and 10% on aluminium imports this week, possibly as early as Thursday. On Wednesday, Trump hinted that his restrictions on trade could run even deeper, citing China's alleged theft of intellectual property. "But there are few alternative sources for the main products the U.S. buys from China", the research firm said in a note on Wednesday.

In Sydney, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sounded confident of getting favourable treatment as Trump spoke of Washington's strong relationship with Australia, a major exporter of iron ore but exports little steel and the United States was not a major customer.