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Commentary: US officials should stop playing Don Quixote in China-US trade talks

(People's Daily)    16:40, July 25, 2018

China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have all hit back at the irresponsible remarks about the ongoing China-US trade talks by Larry Kudlow, the US National Economic Council Director.

“I think the President is so dissatisfied with China on these so-called talks that he is keeping the pressure on and I support that,” Kudlow said in an interview with CNBC on July 18. He also said that it is China that does not want to make a deal and is holding things up, adding that he thinks the ball is in China’s court.

Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said at a press briefing on Thursday that US unreliability and failure to keep its word are why the door for bilateral negotiations is shut.

“Various US officials claimed that China is responsible for the collapse in negotiations. This is not consistent with the facts,” Gao said, pointing to several rounds of talks between Chinese and American officials that at one point even led to an agreement to avert a trade war.

“Right in front of everyone’s eyes, the US went back and forth and ate its own words, and the US official still dared to call white black and tried to shift the blame onto China. That honestly entails some extraordinary imagination and is just preposterously shocking,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference on July 19.

Hua pointed out that China has been sincere and patient enough to seek a settlement of the disputes through dialogue and consultation, and has done its utmost to avoid an escalation of the trade friction.

“Right is right, and wrong is wrong,” Hua emphasized. “What the US did once again chips away at its own credibility and will not help solve the issue in any way.”

Hua emphasized that China’s position and attitude on the trade issue with the US is consistent and clear. “From the very beginning, we made clear our firm position of not wanting to fight but never afraid of fighting. The US, however, holding high its baton, has been rudely threatening and coercing China, and brazenly engaging in flip-flopping and backpedaling, which is the direct and root cause for the escalation of the situation.”

“The US should keep in mind that today is the 21st century with a high level of economic globalization, and it is China they are dealing with.” Hua added. “Those in the US should drag themselves out of their quixotic fantasy and stop acting as if they were the Don Quixote of the 17th century.”

Kudlow claimed on Wednesday that America is the lowest-tariff country in the world among the major countries. “Our average tariff, I think, is about 2.5 percent. Now, China’s average tariff is about 14 percent. It was worse, but they haven’t made any progress lately. By the way, Europe’s is also rising,” said Kudlow.

Yet his remarks were refuted immediately in a report entitled “Kudlow Overstates American, Chinese and European Tariffs” by The New York Times on the same day, saying his claim is exaggerated.

“Mr. Kudlow was seeking to justify Mr. Trump’s trade dispute with China and the European Union with a dramatic — but overstated — comparison of tariffs that each impose,” according to the report.

It noted that “even among major economies, the US does not have the lowest tariffs in the world, though they are among the lowest.”

According to the 2018 Economic Report of the President released by the White House in early 2018, Australia’s and Japan’s tariffs were even lower.

The report pointed out that the 14 percent figure that Kudlow cited for Chinese tariffs is close to the percent that Beijing imposes, on average, on agricultural products. Separately, the World Bank estimated that China imposed an average tariff of 7.9 percent, a weighted average of 3.5 percent against all goods.

The report said that for Kudlow’s claims about trade barriers imposed by China and the EU to be accurate, he would need to selectively apply different metrics in each case.

Updated figures for 2018 would almost certainly show a rise in US tariff rates, because the Trump administration has imposed new tariffs on a variety of imported products this year, according to The New York Times.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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