Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei called Donald Trump an "irrational type" in an interview published Sunday, slamming the Republican presidential frontrunner's calls for a trade war with the Asian giant.
Lou told The Wall Street Journal that the United States "wouldn't be entitled to world leadership" if Trump's proposal to impose tariffs as high as 45 percent on Chinese imports was realized.
China is a frequent target of the brash New York real estate developer in his campaign for the White House. Trump has accused the world's second largest economy of manipulating its currency and said he would impose high tariffs and renegotiate trade deals to compel Beijing to "behave."
Lou, who was in Washington for International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, is known for being an outspoken member of the Chinese leadership.
According to the Journal, almost any across-the-board tariff increase would violate World Trade Organization rules.
In such a situation, Lou was cited as saying, the United States wouldn't be entitled to its position as a world power.
In an election cycle in which both Republicans and Democrats have demonized China, Americans should realize that the two countries "are mutually dependent on each other," with much to lose in a trade war, Lou said.
"Our economic cycles are intertwined," he was quoted as saying. "We have more in common than sets us apart."
Lou is the most senior Chinese official to comment specifically on Trump, the Journal said.
Last month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang noted that the US election was "lively and caught the eyes of many."