Trump made a big play of slapping tariffs on Chinese imports, but experts say neither side will risk escalating the current spat

Will two tribes go to war? Even as the world’s largest economies, the US and China, send conflicting signals over whether they’re heading for an all-out trade war – spooking stock markets – experts doubted either side will risk escalating a dispute over trade imbalances.

China’s economic tsar and vice-premier Liu He told US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday that Beijing is ready to defend its interests after Donald Trump announced plans to slap tariffs on nearly $50bn in Chinese imports.

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Read More Paper tigers? US and China in dispute over tariffs but trade war looks remote

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