Rolls of steel are stacked inside the China Steel Corporation factory in Kaohsiung
Washington - Washington's move to probe steel imports could trigger a trade dispute between the US and its major trading partners, who are likely to take retaliatory steps, the official China Daily said in an editorial on Monday.

The article was the strongest official response yet to US President Donald Trump on Thursday launching an investigation of China and other steel producers for dumping cheap steel products in the US.

“By proposing an unjustified investigation into steel imports in the guise of safeguarding national security, the US seems to be resorting to unilateralism to solve bilateral and multilateral problems,” the China Daily said.

The probe could result in efforts by the US to curb imports that would affect the interests of a number of its major trade partners, including China, it added.

“If the US does take protectionist measures, then other countries are likely to take justifiable retaliatory actions against US companies that have an advantage in fields such as finance and hi-tech, leading to a tit-for-tat trade war that benefits no one,” it said.

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The editorial called on the US, the world’s top economy, to use the settlement mechanism under the World Trade Organisation to resolve the dispute over steel.

Reducing imports would not alter the weak competitiveness of US steel-makers, help restore US manufacturing or bring back jobs, as Trump hopes, it said.

It was a marked shift from official comments on Friday, when Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China needed to ascertain the direction of any US probe before it could make a judgment.