China's Commerce Minister Zhong Shan says a trade war would only bring disaster to China, the United States and the rest of the world.
Zhong, speaking on the sidelines of China's annual session of parliament, said China does not want a trade war and will not initiate one.
After pressure from allies, the United States has opened the way for more exemptions from tariffs of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium that US President Donald Trump put in place last week.
But the target of Trump's ire is China, whose capacity expansions have helped add to global surpluses of steel. China has repeatedly vowed to defend its "legitimate rights and interests" if targeted by US trade actions.