Washington, Tokyo and Brussels said Tuesday they were making common cause against unfair trade, jointly denouncing industrial practices long pinned on China but refraining from naming that country explicitly.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko and European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem "reiterated their concern with and confirmed their shared objective to address non-market-oriented policies."
In a statement issued on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, they said unnamed "third countries" had engaged in "severe overcapacity," while creating unfair competitive conditions, threatening technological development and ultimately undermining global trade.
"The ministers recalled that market-oriented conditions are fundamental to a fair, mutually advantageous global trading system and that their citizens and businesses operate under market-oriented conditions," said the statement.
"The ministers found such practices to be deplorable," it added, noting the three economies were considering "possible measures" that could be undertaken.
Washington has cited precisely these grievances in justifying its escalating trade war with Beijing, which it also accuses of seeking global industrial predominance through theft, coercion, subsidies and state-sponsored acquisitions.
On Monday, the United States imposed tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, meaning about half of everything Americans buy from China is now subjected to import levies.