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US unilaterally initiated a trade war without any international legal basis: expert

(People's Daily)    15:09, July 16, 2018

In a statement issued on July 12, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) pointed out that the United States accused China's countermeasures of having no international legal basis, but in fact it is the U.S. unilateral initiation of a trade war that has no international legal basis at all. Experts believe that the US approach is a unilateral approach prohibited by the WTO's Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), and violates the most basic spirit and principles of the WTO. That China was forced to take counteractions is an inevitable choice to defend national interests and global interests, and is perfectly rightful, reasonable and lawful.

"The section 301 investigation was initiated, investigated, decided and executed by the United States itself and has a strong characteristic of unilateralism, " said Bai Ming, deputy director of the MOC International Market Research Institute. Given that, the Section 301 has been widely criticized ever since its enactment.

"It is not surprising that the economic and trade cooperation between economic powers can be frictional. The key is to adopt a reasonable and legal solution, rather than arbitrarily adopting unilateralism and protectionism." Bai Ming said.

The Section 301 refers to an investigation under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974, a law that allows the US president to unilaterally impose tariffs on another country.

As Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics once put in a metaphor - The US government acted as police force (identifying the foreign government’s crime), prosecutor (making the legal arguments), jury (ruling on the evidence), and judge (sentencing the foreigner to US retaliatory punishment).

In August 2017, the US launched the Section 301 investigation against China despite opposition from China and the international community. The US released a Section 301 investigation report in March 2018 and imposed 25 percent tariffs on 34 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese exports to the US on July 6 in disregard of 91-percent opposition in the comments it received. On July 11, the US further escalated the situation by announcing a tariff list of Chinese products worth 200 billion U.S. dollars.

They are a clear violation of the basic WTO principle of most-favored-nation treatment as well as the basic spirit and principles of international law. Also, the tariffs are typical unilateralism, protectionism and trade bullying, said Wang Qijiang, the vice chairman of the China Law Society.

The US has violated its commitment to free trade and should be stopped jointly by relevant parties and led back to the right track of WTO principles.

The US has totally turned its back on the framework of global multi-lateral trade, demanding only the one-side interest, which is not only disobeying the principles of global trade, but also unlikely to get the advantage.

The “fair trade” that the US claims is a clear “protectionism” under the name of fairness.

That China was forced to take counteractions is an inevitable choice to defend national interests and global interests, and is perfectly rightful, reasonable and lawful. It also demonstrates China’s resolution and determination to protect the WTO multi-lateral system and the international law, said Zhang Monan, a researcher from the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

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