Defiant China blames U.S. for trade dispute
Beijing — China issued a report Sunday blaming the United States for the countries’ trade dispute and said it won’t back down on “major issues of principle,” but offered no clarification about what additional steps it might take to up the ante.
The report from the Cabinet spokesman’s office said China has kept its word throughout 11 rounds of talks and will honor its commitments if a trade agreement is reached. It accused the U.S. of backtracking three times over the course of the talks by introducing new tariffs and other conditions beyond what was agreed on.
“But the more the U.S. government is offered, the more it wants,” it said, accusing America’s negotiators of “resorting to intimidation and coercion.”
The report, delivered at a Sunday morning news conference, appears to be a bid to shore up China’s arguments and justify its position in the face of what looks to be a protracted dispute. Over recent days, China has been mobilizing its representatives abroad to sell its position with foreign audiences, while the domestic propaganda apparatus has been working overtime to convince the public of the righteousness of the government’s stance.
Linda Lim, a professor at Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, said the report does not represent an escalation on China’s part, but rather reiterates the government’s position in a clear and measured way that leaves the door open for negotiations.
“They threw the ball back into the U.S. court,” she said.
She said the report is a public relations win for China’s government at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policy is antagonizing other U.S. trading partners, most recently Mexico.
The U.S. has accused China of stealing trade secrets and forced technology transfers. The Trump administration has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is planning to tax the $300 billion in imports that have been spared. It also escalated the stakes this month by putting Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. companies from supplying it with computer chips, software and other components without government approval.
Beijing responded by imposing tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products, which went into effect Saturday. It also retaliated against the U.S. blacklisting of Huawei by announcing Friday that it will establish its own list of “unreliable entities” consisting of foreign businesses, corporations and individuals.
Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister and deputy international trade representative, said China would issue more information on the unreliable entities list soon, but that it was aimed at enterprises that “violated market principles” and cut supplies of components to Chinese businesses for non-commercial reasons.
Sunday’s report lays out China’s argument for blaming Washington for the frictions as well as the costs to both sides, and said China has room for fiscal policy changes to maintain the health of its economy amid the dispute.
Wang said China had been forced to “take forceful measures in response” to U.S. actions and denied China had backtracked on its earlier commitments.