China warned the United States on Thursday not to open Pandora's Box and spark a flurry of protectionist practices across the globe, even as Beijing pointed to U.S. goods that it could target in a deepening Sino-U.S. trade dispute.
China could target a broad range of U.S. businesses from agriculture to aircraft, autos, semiconductors and even services if the trade conflict escalates, the official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday.
President Donald Trump's move last week to slap up to $60 billion in tariffs on some Chinese imports has since provoked a warning from Beijing that it could retaliate with duties of up to $3 billion of U.S. imports.
China's biggest U.S. imports are aircraft and related equipment, soybeans and autos, with the total bill about $40 billion last year.
"The malicious practices of the United States are like opening Pandora's Box, and there is a danger of triggering a chain reaction that will spread the virus of trade protectionism across the globe," a commerce ministry spokesman said.
The official line from China continues to be stern even as Beijing says it is all for dialogue and negotiations. The feedback from U.S. and Chinese officials on the nature and extent of trade talks remains mixed, media reports show.