Wei Jianguo: US underestimated China's determination

  • Time:2019-08-01
  • source:CCIEE



By Wei Jianguo | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-05-30


Some people in the United States blame China for the failure of the China-US trade talks. What actually happened is quite the contrary; it is the US that botched the negotiations because it underestimated China.

First, China's firm determination in safeguarding its core interests and major concerns exceeded US expectations.

By mounting maximum pressure on China, the US launched an all-out attack, but it didn't work. In order to conclude a successful agreement in which both sides are satisfied, concessions and compromises by either side are indispensable.

If only one party's interests are met, the agreement is unlikely to be thoroughly implemented, and may even be overturned. Besides, requests raised by the US infringed on China's concerns.

During negotiations, the US accused China of going back on its commitments, which is an unfounded countercharge. It should be asked to explicitly point out what commitments made by China have been reneged on. The US did not expect the Chinese delegation to so firmly defend China's position and interests.

Second, the US underestimated China's firmness when facing trade friction.

By slapping tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and threatening tariffs on another $300 billion of imports, the US felt it would make China yield to pressure. It ignored the fact that China is the world's second-largest economy with a strong industrial system.

Third, the US underestimated damage to the American people's interests caused by the increased tariffs.

US consumers and importers, especially ordinary people and agricultural traders, expressed strong displeasure at the announcement of tariff hikes. The US government perhaps felt a trade war was an easy and effective approach to contain China's development.

Whatever has happened over the past year demonstrates that the US policy on foreign trade is flawed.

Since the US and China are the two largest economies in the world, cooperation between them is the only solution for mutual benefit. China-US relations are going through a rough phase. Yet it is not wise to draw the conclusion that the frosty relations will result in further confrontation, as trade tensions between China and the US are normal despite the worldwide attention.

In dealing with economic and trade frictions between China and the US, it is essential for China to be fully prepared. China, which is opening up further along with improving its business environment, could also consider some countermeasures to the US actions.


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