China Officially says, “Keep calm, do not inflame trade row with US”
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China is not ‘happy’ about Washington’s hard line on trade, but has controlled coverage of the dust-up in its media, limiting open commentary and banning attacks on US President Donald Trump.
Beijing has issued unusually strict rules limiting coverage of the trade war because of worries that unrestrained reporting could spark instability or roil its already nervous financial markets, as they have fallen hard into Bear territory since the beginning of this year.
“When exposing and criticizing American words and actions, be careful not to link it to President Trump and instead to aim it at the US government,” said a memo based on a set of directives issued verbally by government officials that was circulated to reporters at a state-run news outlet.
Media outlets must help “stabilize the economy, growth, employment, stabilize foreign trade, investment, finance, stabilize the stock market, the foreign exchange market, the housing market, and basically stabilize the peoples’ thinking, hearts and expectations,” it said.
A person who works at a leading Chinese news website said the rules issued last week were “the most strict yet.”
The website was told to post only stories about the trade conflict by state news agency Xinhua, rather than publishing its own. It was also ordered to keep the topic out of the top few headlines and closely manage comments about it, according to the source.
The website’s smartphone app was no longer permitted to send push notifications on the subject to users, and the website was forbidden from setting up special pages about the dispute.
The power imbalance in the US-China trade dispute and the potential for real economic discomfort have led China’s leadership to adopt a softer approach.
“They know the seriousness of the situation and the possible consequences, and they don’t want the media coverage to bring any kind of extra damage,” said Li Xigen, a professor in the department of Media and Communications at City University of Hong Kong.
The information office of the State Council did not immediately comment on the state’s efforts to censor news of the trade row.
The trade war does not appear to be a Hot item on China’s social media. Media sources said authorities are censoring anything found objectionable, minimizing the prospect that any outcry on social media platforms could spur a backlash against US brands.
Wang Jiangyu, a trade expert at the National University of Singapore, said attacking US firms could backfire.
“China might need to restrict the market access of American companies. But to purge American companies that are already operating in China might be a very bad idea. Those companies generate jobs and revenue for China. Most Apple products are made in China,” he said.
“To do something to harm American firms that are already operating in China would be very stupid.”
Wednesday, the major US stock market indexes finished at: DJIA -219.21 at 24700.45, NAS Comp -42.59 at 7716.63, S&P 500 -19.82 at 2773.76
Volume: Trade ion the NYSE came in at 697-M/shares exchanged
- NAS Comp +11.8% YTD
- Russell 2000 +9.7% YTD
- S&P 500 +3.8% YTD
- DJIA -0.1% YTD
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