China on Friday expressed "firm opposition" to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, saying the move will seriously undermine international trade order.
The statement came after the U.S. President Donald Trump signed proclamations to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum amid mounting dissent from business groups and trading partners around the world.
The tariffs, 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, will take effect in 15 days with initial exemptions for Canada and Mexico pending the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The tarrifs were based on national security grounds, but the majority of steel and aluminum was for civilian use, said Wang Hejun, a senior official at China's Ministry of Commerce.
Abuse of the clauses on national security would damage the World Trade Organization and other multilateral trade system, Wang said.
China will take measures to defend its legitimate rights and interests, he said
China urged the United States to respect the multilateral trade system and revoke the policy as soon as possible, Wang said.
A separate statement released Friday morning by the China Iron and Steel Association said the move not only damaged the iron and steel industry across the world, but damaged the interests of consumers, especially American consumers.
Iron and steel trade has been the sector worst-hit by China-U.S. trade frictions.
Before the Trump administration's Section-232 investigation, dozens of anti-dumping and countervailing measures had been imposed on almost all iron and steel products, with some tariffs already almost prohibitively high.
The association called on the government to take firm counter-measures against imports from the United States.