UNITED NATIONS — China warned Friday that its critical relationship with the United States could break “like a glass,” and used the most global of stages to warn the Trump administration that it wouldn’t be pushed around on trade.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted that his country “will not be blackmailed” or bow to pressure. “Protectionism will only hurt oneself, and unilateral moves will bring damage to all,” he told the U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders.

President Trump this week cranked up punitive tariffs on China, and Beijing responded in kind, escalating a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Trump upped the ante by then accusing China of meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections because it opposes his trade policies. He has presented little evidence to back up the allegations, which China says are untrue.

Wang, in separate remarks at a think tank, said the U.S.-China relationship was at a critical point, four decades since ties were normalized.

“The relationship between our two countries is a common asset. It must be preserved and valued. It’s the result of generations of people’s efforts,” Wang said. “It’s like a glass. It’s easy to break it” and would be difficult to repair, he said.

Trump increased tariffs Monday on $200 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing responded by imposing penalties on $60 billion of American products.

That was on top of an earlier duty increase by both sides on $50 billion of each other’s goods. The tit-for-tat is fueling anxiety that smaller nations will suffer.

“There is a trade war going on between the two most powerful nations, and the rest of the world is feeling the pain,” Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the General Assembly on Friday.

Behind the trade dispute are U.S. allegations that China uses predatory tactics to overtake American technological dominance.

These tactics, the U.S. charges, include cyber-theft of U.S. companies’ trade secrets and a requirement that foreign companies hand over proprietary technology as the price of access to the Chinese market.

Wang denied that China was stealing technology and forcing companies to transfer technology as a condition for investing in the country.

He described instead a symbiotic commercial relationship in which the U.S. companies have a comparative advantage in technology and work in partnership with Chinese firms to help them access China’s growing market.


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