China on Thursday ramped up its rhetoric against the United States, saying that deliberate provocations of trade disputes is “naked economic terrorism”, Reuters reported.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said China opposed the use of “big sticks” like trade sanctions, tariffs and protectionism. “We oppose a trade war but are not afraid of a trade war,” Zhang said when asked about the ongoing trade dispute with the United States. “This kind of deliberately provoking trade disputes is naked economic terrorism, economic chauvinism, economic bullying.”

Tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated sharply with US President Donald Trump hiking tariffs on Chinese goods earlier this month and then blacklisting the telecommunications giant Huawei.

“Everyone loses in a trade war,” Zhang said while addressing a press conference on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia next week for an investor forum. “This trade clash will have a serious negative effect on global economic development and recovery.”

On relations between China and Russia, Zhang said: “We will definitely properly deal with all external challenges, do our own thing well, develop our economy, and continue to raise the living standards of our two peoples.”

Zhang further said China is confident of safeguarding the country’s “sovereignty, security, respect and security and development interests.”

China threatens ban on rare earths export

China has also threatened the US with the possibility of a rare earths export ban. Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements used in high-tech consumer electronics to military equipment.

On May 15, United States President Donald Trump had signed an executive order declaring a national emergency, banning American telecom companies from using foreign-made equipment that are considered a threat to national security. Many of the computer chips are made using rare earths, of which China is a major exporter.

On Thursday, the state-run People’s Daily newspaper said “it would be naive to think that China does not have other countermeasures apart from rare earths to hand”.

A day earlier, the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party had sent a worded warning to Washington, according to CNN. “At present, the United States completely overestimates its ability to control the global supply chain and is due to slap itself in the face when it sobers up from its happy, ignorant self-indulgence,” read a commentary published under the pseudonym Wuyuehe. “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

On May 10, Donald Trump increased import duty on Chinese products worth nearly $300 billion (Rs 21 lakh crore). Beijing had also retaliated to the United States by announcing plans to hike tariffs on $60 billion (Rs 4 lakh crore) worth of imports from the United States from June 1.