(File photo: Reuters)
China on Thursday slammed a US plan reportedly under consideration to restrict Chinese investment and vowed to hit back if the US goes ahead with the plan.
"We have made preparations for responding to all possibilities based on bottom-line thinking," Gao Feng, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, told a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
Ordered by US President Donald Trump, the US treasury department is reportedly drafting a plan to ban Chinese investment in certain US high-tech industries by invoking a US law designed for national emergencies, adding more fuel to an escalating trade spat between the world's two largest economies.
"China's opposition to a country imposing unilateral sanctions based on its domestic laws is consistent and clear," Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday, when asked about the US plan at a press briefing.
Gao said, "We will listen to [US] words and watch its actions," while noting that uncertainties for investment in the US have already led to some companies slowing or abandoning their investment plans for the country.
While Gao declined to offer specific actions China could take in response to the US plan, Dong Yan, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics in Beijing, said that China had many cards.
"China's countermeasures so far are not particularly strong, but there will be stronger actions," Dong told the Global Times on Thursday, noting China could do the same as the US by curbing US investments in China or launching anti-monopoly probes against US companies.
Chinese experts have suggested that China could target big US corporations that make billions of dollars each year in China, including Boeing and Apple, sending chills through the boardrooms of these corporations and rattling their stock prices.
In a sign of unease, Apple CEO Tim Cook was scheduled to meet Trump on Wednesday local time to talk about the trade spat, according to report from US media Axios.
By targeting each other's companies, the US and China were hurting both sides, said Gong Min, an analyst at UBS Investment Research.
"All the businesses are tied together and the escalation of trade tensions will do no good to anybody, neither the consumers or the companies," Gong said on Thursday, highlighting joint ventures between Chinese and US carmakers.
Gao on Thursday also argued that Chinese investments have made an "important contribution" to job creation and economic growth in the US.