China said on Tuesday it was impossible to hold trade talks with the United States while Washington is imposing tariffs that are like “holding a knife to someone’s throat”.
Speaking a day after Washington activated tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen said China is open to negotiations but that the two sides must treat each other “equally and with respect”.
“Now that the US has adopted this type of large-scale trade restrictions, they’re holding a knife to someone’s throat. Under these circumstances, how can negotiations proceed?” Wang told a news conference.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had invited Chinese officials to hold new talks, but President Donald Trump’s latest tariffs salvo appear to have scuttled that effort.
Wang met US officials in Washington in August but there have been no high-level meetings for months.
Wang said Tuesday the US measures “have made it impossible for the negotiations to proceed”.
China published a white paper on Monday to clarify the facts about China-U.S. economic and trade relations, demonstrate its stance on trade friction with the United States, and pursue reasonable solutions.
Excluding the foreword, the 36,000-Chinese-character white paper is comprised of six parts, which are mutually-beneficial and win-win China-U.S. cooperation in the trade and economic field, clarification of the facts about China-U.S. trade and economic relations, the trade protectionist practices of the U.S. administration, the trade bullyism practices of the U.S. administration, damage of the improper practices of the U.S. administration to global economy, and China’s position.
China is the world’s biggest developing country and the United States is the biggest developed country, said the white paper. “Trade and economic relations between China and the United States are of great significance for the two countries as well as for the stability and development of the world economy.”
The white paper said the two countries are at different stages of development and have different economic systems, and therefore some level of trade friction is only natural. “The key, however, lies in how to enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation, and manage differences.”
In the spirit of equality, rationality, and moving to meet each other halfway, the two countries have set up a number of communication and coordination mechanisms such as the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, the white paper said.
Each has made tremendous efforts over the past 40 years to overcome all kinds of obstacles and move economic and trade relations forward, which has served as the ballast and propeller of the overall bilateral relationship, according to the white paper.
However, the new administration of the U.S. government has trumpeted “America First” since taking office in 2017, and has abandoned the fundamental norms of mutual respect and equal consultation that guide international relations, said the white paper.
“Rather, it has brazenly preached unilateralism, protectionism and economic hegemony, making false accusations against many countries and regions, particularly China, intimidating other countries through economic measures such as imposing tariffs, and attempting to impose its own interests on China through extreme pressure,” according to the white paper.
The white paper stressed China has responded from the perspective of the common interests of both parties as well as the world trade order, observing the principle of resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation, and answering the U.S. concerns with the greatest level of patience and good faith.
The Chinese side has been dealing with these differences with an attitude of seeking common ground while shelving divergence, the white paper said. “It has overcome many difficulties and made enormous efforts to stabilize China-U.S. economic and trade relations by holding rounds of discussions with the U.S. side and proposing practical solutions.”
However, the U.S. side has been contradicting itself and constantly challenging China, the white paper said.
“As a result, trade and economic friction between the two sides has escalated quickly over a short period of time, causing serious damage to the economic and trade relations which have developed over the years through the collective work of the two governments and the two peoples, and posing a grave threat to the multilateral trading system and the principle of free trade.”
The Chinese government published the white paper to clarify the facts about China-U.S. economic and trade relations, demonstrate China’s stance on trade friction with the United States, and pursue reasonable solutions.
China-U.S. economic and trade ties concern not only the well-being of the peoples of the two countries, but also world peace, prosperity and stability, the white paper said. “Cooperation is the only correct option for China and the United States, and only a win-win approach will lead to a better future. China’s position is clear, consistent and firm.”
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