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Ever since the trade talks started, China's officials have been exemplary. China has shown an incandescent maturity and wisdom towards conflict resolution bolstered by century-ripened statecraft. The US on the other hand is being run by someone whom his own officials and past trade experts are still puzzling where he's coming from and what he really wants even at this late a stage. That's because he changes his mind and mood to suit his maga-malfeasance.|
Vice-Premier Liu He has said Beijing required a complete removal of tariffs, a realistic scale of Chinese purchases of American products and a deal that would not undermine China’s sovereignty and dignity. If he had been Chinese, Lighthizer could not have said it better. If he and his team had been representing China instead of his US, they would have said it no less. After all, these three matters are bottom-lines not to be breached.
Firstly, a complete removal of tariffs would show the US fully understands that tariffs are an anomaly in international relations built on trade. Tariffs hurt the US manufacturer and consumer more than the China supplier. Persisted, a weaponized tariff regime is only an agenda to decouple markets by force which will weaken economic growth and progress by cross-border trade. Such a removal would also intimate the US favors cooperation not economic extortion and that the US can accept a China which is rising by ingenuity, effort and sacrifice, attributes which the US itself had also displayed when it broke off from British imperialism.
Secondly, a realistic scale of Chinese purchases of American products is of course not only practical but also practicable. It would be impractical if not utterly unreasonable to demand another sovereign state to reduce one's trade deficit by buying things it doesn't need. Even the WTO formed by the US will say so too. After all, if the trade deficit is reduced next year by doing so, what about two years down the line when the deficit can grow again because the US still hasn't put its own house in order and that because its manufacturers can count on their government to give its industries a crutch since China can just be telegrammed ad infinitum to buy more and more?
Is China for that matter another other trade-surplus country to continue buying more of what it has enough and not allowed to buy what else it needs just to satisfy the whims of some US officials who have to satisfy the whims of their voters who have to satisfy the whims of their jaundiced views of other countries who are only following willing-buyer-willing-seller-willing-jointventure partner pre-agreed arrangements that have stood the profit-test from east to west?
And, in such a lopsided arrangement, won't the China currency naturally weaken until China cannot equitably buy more of what the US demands? But one forgets, the US has another response to that - it will just label China a currency manipulator even if it is the US which is causing markets to weaken the China currency. Tough being a Chinese these days, doesn't it seem so?
And thirdly, what China has been asking is a cooperative agreement with equality and dignity whereas what everyone can see by now the US on the other hand and from day one has demanded and is demanding that (a) China must remove all tariffs but the US can maintain them, (b) China cannot impose conditions on US companies operating in China but the US can impose conditions on China companies operating in and out of the US, and (c) China is not allowed to report to the WTO any US wrong-doings.
And to prove its steely resolve to mean business this time, the US has asked its pet poodle Canada to detain Sabrina Meng, and ban Huawei and other China tech companies from US suppliers and customers. As the global hegemon in need of quick fixes, has the US become shameless instead, like some pugnacious school-yard bully ever ready to muscle others out by actions that barely evade the hints of racism and opportunism?
Do the US officials, hawks and diehards need any explanation why an agreement must be founded on equality and dignity that enshrines sovereignty or is it because the US wants to deal with a China it deems some serfish subordinate because it doesn't really want to recognize the China government it wants to talk with today but decouple from tomorrow and marginalize the day after?
Just one atom of wisdom will tell you if China is treated without equality, dignity and sovereignty, her peoples won't be buying any US goods even if all tariffs on them are removed. After all, who would like to be punched for no long-term rational reason and then asked to pay compensation to the bully for the inconvenience of having to exert force? They might as well mightily buy from and support wholeheartedly their kinsfolk industries and companies. Then all those US multinationals will lose the world's biggest and fastest growing market for high-tech products and consumer produce. Has the US become the grand mafioso of the international free market order?
Are the hallwalkers and gate keepers in the corridors of power in Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan and South Korea reading in today? If done to these countries, would they meekly continue to submit to the grand larceny of international hegemony?
After all, the writing's already on the wall. The US is holding back for another six months its threat to hit Europe with auto tariffs just because it wants a single front to target China. So what China is facing today, Europe will face in about 180 days time. Who knows, Trump may not stop at Germany's motorcars only but add French wine, British marmalade, Italian shoes, Swiss tools, Japanese cars and electronics, et cetera.... Each time the US raises its trade ante, the global stock markets fall, fortunes are ruined, supply chains are disrupted, forward investment planning is abbreviated, capital flows dry up and countries from advanced to developing suffer to no avail. As Einstein would have said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity.
In fact, in showing he favors Europe by delaying the auto tariffs, Trump shows he has been targeting China from the very beginning for single combat. At the same time, he now adds Huawei for exclusion after getting its finance CEO detained. At the same time, he has asked his US Federal Reserve Bank chairman to go slow with its monetary policy changes when all reserve banks in the world are supposed to be independent of their state chiefs. Three in just one wrecking-ball week.
Lastly, if US military intelligence under a warhead like Bolton is wrong about Iran which is just shoring its defense in case the US attacks the hapless nation, how can anyone be confident US trade intelligence as espoused by the likes of its Bannon, Navarro and Pillsbury won't be wrong about China?
But China is not a hapless nation. She is reforming in her own strides and building her capabilities with focus and energy. Because the Game of Thrones' winter has passed and 权力中心转 移与国际体系转变.