SHANGHAI: Growing trade tensions between the United States and China are motivated by fears that China is now the top challenger to Washington's global hegemony, the official Communist Party newspaper The People's Daily said on Friday.
China said this week that it would slap additional 25 percent tariffs on US$16 billion worth of U.S. imports in retaliation against levies on Chinese goods imposed by the United States.
The move was the latest round in escalating tit-for-tat trade tensions between the two countries, with U.S. President Donald Trump aiming to pressure Beijing into making concessions.
But the People's Daily said in an editorial that China's rapid economic growth and its position at the center stage of global trade is the "fundamental fact" that should be considered when looking at frictions between the world's two biggest economies, with Beijing emerging as an "unprecedented opponent" for the United States.
"No matter what China does, in the eyes of the United States, China's development has already 'damaged the supremacy of the United States'," the People's Daily said.
"Against this kind of 'opponent', the United States must adopt two methods - first, use the opponent to encourage itself and exhort mass political support for 'making America great again,' and second, curb the opponent's supremacy at every level," it added.
The editorial was responding to claims the tough trade measures implemented by the United States were provoked by China's "strategic overconfidence".
Sources close to the government told Reuters that frictions with the United States were causing rifts within China's Communist Party, with some critics saying that an overly nationalistic Chinese stance may have hardened the U.S. position.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry)