China-U.S. trade disputes can only be settled through rational consultations

China Plus Published: 2019-09-05 19:56:16
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Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

Chief trade negotiators from China and the United States have agreed to meet in Washington for further consultations next month. The agreement, reached in a phone conversation involving Chinese chief negotiator Vice Premier Liu He, and made at the request of his U.S. counterparts, sends out positive signals to the international community.

[Photo: IC]

[Photo: IC]

As China and the United States are in different phases of development with different economic institutions, it’s not unusual for both sides to experience economic and trade disputes occasionally. To solve the problems, the key lies in seeking solutions on an equal basis with mutual respect. Both sides need to deepen their understanding of each other and seek common ground while reserving differences.

Over the past one and half years, China and the United States have seen progress as well as twists and turns in negotiations. Both sides had planned to hold a new round of consultations in Washington this month. But the procedure suffered another setback due to Washington’s abrupt move to further raise the import tariffs on Chinese goods, in relation to which Beijing was forced to take countermeasures. The escalation in trade tensions dealt a blow to both economies as well as global growth.

According to the latest statistics on the U.S. side, its manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.9 in August, below the neutral 50.0 threshold for the first time since September 2009, which means the country’s manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in nearly a decade. In the first half of this year, the U.S. overall trade deficit stood above 410 billion US dollars, up 3 percent over the same period last year. It provides ample evidence that raising tariffs is not the solution to the U.S. trade deficit. International institutions including the IMF and the World Bank have time and time again warned against rising trade tensions, saying the world economy would be dragged further down a recessionary trap if trade frictions continued.

History has proved that trade wars have no winners. Extra tariffs will not solve any problems but can only hurt those involved. The China-U.S. trade disputes can only be settled via dialogue and consultations. Beijing has voiced its firm opposition to the escalation of the trade war. The fact that the Chinese negotiators agreed to carry on the consultations in Washington in early October shows the sense of responsibility and rationality on the Chinese side with an aim of minimizing the impact of the trade war on all sides.

It is reported that both working groups will start taking concrete actions to create favorable conditions so that substantive progress can be achieved in the next round of consultations. To take the negotiations back onto the right track, both sides need to revisit the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump during their meetings at the G20 summits held in Buenos Aires and Osaka.

The economic and trade issues between the world’s two largest economies cannot be expected to be resolved overnight as they are complicated. But the disputes will eventually be settled as long as both sides move toward each other in pursuit of win-win, mutually beneficial results, patiently and rationally.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.