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Critics have said that an overly nationalistic Chinese stance may have hardened the U.S. position, Reuters reported, citing sources close to the government.
In a striking response to a debate largely held behind closed doors, the newspaper said: "One of these (critics) puts the blame on China, saying that 'China's strategy is too confident and high profile, incurring a one-two punch from the United States.'"
"Another of these criticizes China saying that it shouldn't strike back," the paper added. "The meaning is that as long as China caves in, the United States will raise its hands high in mercy, and the Sino-U.S. trade war won't happen."
China this week threatened to slap additional 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of American imports, in a tit-for-tat move against duties imposed by the U.S. on Chinese goods.
After more than a century of "hard work," the People's Daily said, China has "returned to the center of the world stage" and has emerged as an "unprecedented opponent" for the U.S.
"Such a large size, such a heavy thing, can't be hidden by 'being low key,' just like an elephant can't hide behind a small tree," wrote the lengthy commentary.
However, the U.S. has a history of going after countries that threatened its global economic dominance, the People's Daily said, citing the former Soviet Union and Japan as examples.
"No matter what China does, in the eyes of the United States, China's development has already 'damaged the supremacy of the United States,'" it said.
—Reuters contributed to this report.