China slams US bullying, backtracking in international trade

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/4 23:54:05

US actions cause irreparable damage to its global credibility: analysts

Chinese officials on Tuesday doubled down on their criticism of the US' bullying tactics over trade and constant backtracking in negotiations, pushing back against the latest accusations by US officials and blaming the US for single-handedly putting the world's economy at risk.

Despite the US' repeated accusations, China has the moral high ground and is better positioned to prevail as the US continuously undermines its global credibility by bullying other countries with tariffs and ignoring international rules and norms, analysts noted.

"The US government has constantly adjusted relevant demands in the past 10 rounds of negotiations and arbitrarily accused China of backtracking. This is nothing more than slander," the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday night. "The responsibilities lie entirely with the US."

The statement was in response to an earlier statement from the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) that largely repeated previous accusations that China walked back on promises during the negotiations and conducted unfair trade practices.

"The views mentioned in the US' latest statement are nothing but harping on the same old tunes," Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a routine press briefing on Tuesday. Geng urged the US to read the two white papers China has released on the trade talks and not be "self-righteous."

Constant backtracking

On Sunday, China issued a white paper on its position on the China-US trade talks, revealing in great detail how the US backtracked in negotiations three times.

In March 2018, after the two sides held several rounds of talks and agreed on expanding China's imports of US agricultural and energy products, the US released the so-called section 301 report criticizing China's trade practices and announced a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

In May 2018, just days after the two sides agreed to put the trade war on hold after talks in Washington, the US resumed tariffs on Chinese goods and slapped a tariff of 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

And then in a latest case, after several rounds of talks where the two sides agreed on most issues and were close to a deal, the US broke a consensus reached by leaders of the two countries in December 2018 by raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and blacklisted Chinese telecom firm Huawei.

During the trade talks, the US insisted on "unreasonable" demands, including terms that violate China's sovereignty, according to Wang Shouwen, a vice commerce minister who is part of the Chinese negotiating team. He said at a press briefing on Sunday that even after China overcame difficulties to find pragmatic solutions to many issues raised by the US, "it still wanted a yard after China offered an inch."

"This reveals with facts the US' inconsistency, dishonesty and bullying actions," Wei Jianguo, a former vice commerce minister and vice secretary general at Chinese Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "The US bullying actions give China the moral high ground… more countries will stand with China."

Losing credibility

The US administration's bullying actions are not just aimed at China, but several other countries too such as Mexico, India and even its close allies in Europe and the Asia Pacific, which analysts say laid bare its disdain for global rules and norms in pursuit of its self-interests.

With Mexico, US officials have threatened to impose tariffs on products imported from its southern neighbor if the country does not help stop illegal immigrants from entering the US. With India, it has announced an end to special trade treatment, paving the way for imposing tariffs on Indian goods.

US officials even reportedly considered slapping tariffs on products from one of its closest allies, Australia. They are also considering tariffs on auto imports, which could target their European and Asian allies such as Germany and Japan.

"If the US is consistent on one thing, it's the bullying tactic. It not only uses that against China, but also a host of other countries," said Li Yong, deputy chair of the Expert Committee of the China Association of International Trade. "For its own political purposes, the US has disrupted other countries' economies and the global economy as a whole."

Apart from its obsession with tariffs, the US is also increasingly meddling in other countries' domestic affairs. For instance, in the UK, visiting US President Donald Trump has been slammed for wading into UK politics such as a heated race for prime minister and the country's contentious Brexit debate.

"All of these behaviors will have profound consequence for the US in the long run," Li said, noting that the bullying tactics will not only inflict pain on the US economy but will put a dent on the US' already declining credibility on the global stage that will be very difficult to repair.