Show sincerity or cancel trade talks, Chinese state media tells US

18-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

China would rather suspend further trade negotiations with the United States if Washington continues its tough gestures towards Beijing, Chinese state media said.

A commentary published by Taoran Notes, a social media account affiliated with Economic Daily, said China would not give an “effective response” to the US if Washington did not show sincerity in resolving the two countries’ trade disputes.

“If there is no real concrete action by the United States, it will be meaningless for you to come and talk,” it said, referring to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s remarks on Wednesday saying that he would go to Beijing to continue talks.

“It is better to suspend the consultation completely and return to the normal working track.”

The commentary said China had shown its sincerity to resolve the trade deadlock by sending Chinese vice-Premier Liu He to Washington for negotiations even after US President Donald Trump had decided to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

But the US had kept up its tough stance towards Beijing, it said, after Washington also introduced restrictions on Chinese telecoms company Huawei.

“The US does not show any sincerity in continuing talks,” it said. “Instead, it is extending its pressure tactics. The US on one hand says it engages in talks, but on the other hand keeps using petty tricks to destroy the atmosphere for talks.”

The commentary came after Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said China was not aware of Mnuchin’s planned trip and felt regret that the US had “unilaterally and continuously escalated the trade conflict”.

Mnuchin, speaking in a congressional hearing, said he would most likely go to Beijing in the near future to continue discussions. Trump, meanwhile, is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, next month.

Beijing’s willingness to retaliate should not be underestimated, it said.

“China’s sincerity is not returned with a positive response,” it said. “Instead, some may even think that China is weak and can be bullied.”

China had no alternative but to retaliate by imposing tariffs on US imports, it argued.

“If anyone thinks that China is bluffing, it will only be another major miscalculation after the war to resist US aggression and assist North Korea,” it said, referring to the Korean war in 1953, when it said people had not believed Chinese troops would cross the border between the two Koreas.

“We will take countermeasures against anyone who puts tariffs on us,” it said.

Tensions between the two sides escalated last week when Trump made good on his threat to more than double the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 per cent after accusing Beijing of backtracking on pledges it had made in earlier rounds of talks. China hit back by imposing the same level of tariffs on $60 billion of US products.

Chen Long, an economist with Gavekal Dragonomics in Beijing, said the two countries still had a number of “sticky issues” to discuss, including the timing and process for removing tariffs already imposed, and agreeing which products and in what quantities Beijing should buy to help redress the US’ trade deficit with China.


Category: China

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