Zhang Yesui, a vice minister of foreign affairs, reiterated the Chinese government's view that "the common interests of both sides are far greater than their differences". In January, he took his first foray into tariff measures by placing charges on imported washing machines and solar panels.
President Donald Trump has taken a tough line in the Administration's second annual trade policy agenda, emphasising "aggressive" enforcement of United States trade laws and limiting the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The president's desire for wholesale change in USA trade policy has met with increasing resistance from congressional Republicans as well as the business community, normally a reliable GOP ally.
Canada, Japan and South Korea, all US allies and major exporters of steel and aluminum, are asking for exemptions from the tariff hike, which Trump justified in part on national security grounds. Chinese officials have threatened to take "necessary measures" to defend their country's interests.
U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers are also disappointed with the Administration's decision.
Canada - the biggest foreign supplier of steel to the US - said the measures were unacceptable while the European Union vowed to "react firmly" with World Trade Organization-compliant countermeasures in the next few days. The Trump administration has been working with senior members of Congress on legislation, strongly opposed by Beijing, that would considerably tighten scrutiny of Chinese investments in the United States.
Trump is expected in the coming weeks to announce the findings of a Section 301 investigation into China's alleged theft of intellectual property and its broader industrial policy. But export-driven industries support millions of jobs, raising the potential political cost of any disruption. Those gauges often don't tally with China's official data.
Major trading partners, including the European Union, have threatened to retaliate against USA products they import if Trump goes ahead with the tariffs.
But as the world's biggest exporter, China may choose to keep its response more muted to try to avoid a trade war, and claim the moral high ground as the defender of the global trading system. It pledges to prevent Beijing from disrupting global trade. They point to scarce progress China has made opening up sectors such as financial services to foreign players, Chinese industrial policies that favor domestic firms and a yawning trade deficit that amounted to $375 billion in 2017.
The ministry said Beijing has satisfied its trade obligations and appealed to Washington to settle disputes through negotiation.