On September 24th, Monday, there were further developments in the trade war between the United States and China. US President Donald Trump has returned to playing the tariff card, charging extra taxes on Chinese products worth 200 billion dollars. On the same day, in response, China also imposed tariffs between 5 and 10 percent on US products worth $ 60 billion, prompting the US Treasury's invitation to China for yet another dialogue session by September 20th to have no effect.
Having received the invitation, the Chinese Government intended to pay a visit to the United States, first through Deputy Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen, and then, later this week, Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, for discussions with North American officials. However, shortly after the invitation from the US Treasury Department, President Donald Trump announced the imposition of tariffs on Chinese products, re-emphasizing, on the 20th, that he would take a firm stand on China in order to defend EUA's long term interests. This is when a member of the US government told Bloomberg News that if the country does not act, the US economy and its consumers will suffer in the long run. China, however, continues to assert that US threats of tariffs and tactics of pressure will not cause the country to give in. The rejection of the US invitation to dialogue is in line with Beijing's emphasis on the principle of "never negotiating under pressure." Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday that "the US has not shown any goodwill or sincerity in its actions," and that is why China expects the Americans to make an effort to correct this attitude briefly. Also on the 19th, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, during the summer Davos in Tianjin City, commented on the matter, saying that global trade has undergone a series of transformations and these changes will also inevitably affect the Chinese economy. Recently, the growth rate of national investment and consumption have been slowing, the number of companies facing economic difficulties has increased and the national economy has also been affected. However, he commented that "Chinese development has always, over time, faced difficulties and obstacles, and nothing is insurmountable." Since China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the amount of fees paid by companies related to intellectual property rights has increased by 14 times, and China will continue to strengthen such laws and implement a rigid and solid compensation system for damages or infringements that protect innovation in any area. Trump and his collaborators constantly speak of the existing trade surplus, accuse Chinese companies of stealing intellectual property and forcing US companies to transfer technology in exchange for market access. Although in his words Li Keqiang did not mention directly Trump, these were clearly addressed to the American president.
However, the Chinese Government has not yet completely refused any dialogue, whether it is merely a matter of image, political necessity or other reasons. Neither side is willing to be the first to give in, and with the November US midterm elections approaching, China prefers not to enter negotiations already, in order to avoid being part of this election campaign and bring even more disadvantages to the country. So it is most likely that these dialogues will continue only after the end of the next US election.
Article published in the weekly Plataforma Macau in 28.09.2018