"There is no victor in a trade war", Zhong said at a news conference in Beijing last Sunday.
Trump on Thursday enacted tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, going against the wishes of numerous Republicans and the European Union. "But we can handle any challenge, and will firmly defend the interests of our nation and our people".
But China will not start a trade war and it will continue talks with the United States, he said at a press briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing annual parliamentary session.
"A trade war will only bring disaster to China, the United States and the global economy".
Zhong added that the United States trade deficit with China is overestimated by about 20 percent, citing research by a panel tasked with investigating the discrepancy between the two nations' accounts of their trade balance.
Liu He, a senior Chinese economic and financial official met with US officials earlier this month and they have agreed that the two countries should settle their trade disputes by cooperation rather than confrontation. China doesn't want a trade war, and will not start a trade war.More news: President Xi could rule China for life as two-term limit scrapped
China's metals industry has urged the government to retaliate against the tariffs, but Chinese steel accounts for only a small part of USA steel imports.
Trade tensions between the world's two biggest economies intensified last week as President Donald J. Trump signed orders for stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum and indicated more actions are potentially on the way. China accounts for only a small fraction of U.S. steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.
The U.S. reported a $375 billion deficit with China a year ago, so a 20 percent reduction would still be among the largest trade gaps that it has with any country.
The dispute has fueled concerns that soybeans, the United States' most valuable export to the world's second largest economy, might be caught up in the trade actions after Beijing launched a probe into imports of USA sorghum, a grain used in animal feed and liquor.
He also reiterated a previous pledge that China would lower import tariffs on consumer goods including automobiles, as part of an effort to boost domestic consumption. He said China wants to contribute to the stable development of the world economy by settling differences through cooperation and building mutually beneficial relationships.
He noted that China's top economic adviser Liu He visited the United States recently and held "candid and constructive" talks with American officials on bilateral trade issues.