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US faces severe credibility crisis as it frequently breaks promises

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily)    09:08, May 30, 2019

“Honesty is the best policy.” This famous remark of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S., has probably slipped the minds of some politicians in Washington, as the U.S. side has failed to keep their promises and changed their minds constantly during the China-U.S. economic and trade consultations.

Such practice triggered doubts and concerns of even U.S. media who said that “Trump’s on-again, off-again strategy on China may backfire.”

The China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations fully exposed the so-called “Art of Trade” philosophy of some U.S. politicians.

On May 19, 2018, China and the U.S reached consensus on not to engage in a trade war. However, just 10 days later, the U.S. side decided to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods in complete disregard of its promise.

This year, the U.S. started another tariff threat to China on May 5, which seriously frustrated the bilateral trade consultations. Instead of reflecting on their own behaviors, some U.S. politicians labeled China as backsliding from and reneging on the promises it has made, claiming that the Chinese side has broken its promises and gone back on its word.

To break promises is just a normal conduct for these U.S. politicians. Just as The New York Times pointed out, the U.S. has repeatedly agreed to new trade terms withforeign partners, then talked about undoing those deals to achieve additional goals.

For instance, Washington unilaterally exited the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement it once initiated immediately after the current U.S. administration came into office.

Last year, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015, abandoning the fruits of years of painstaking negotiations. It deeply disappointed some European countries who expressed their resolution to stay in this agreement.

According to a survey conducted by 8 European media outlets including French newspaper Le Monde, more than 40 percent of the respondents from the European Union (EU) think that the U.S. is no longer a reliable partner of the EU.

No country wants to be a notorious “promise-breaker”, but why is the U.S. government frequently going back on its word in international affairs unscrupulously?

It is because that some politicians in the U.S. are mistakenly taking state-to-state relations as pure business speculation, and believe that what is between countries is only zero-sum game.

These politicians, obsessed with the thought of how to maximize the interests of their own country, do not care about justice and national image. Going back on their promises for their own profits, they will eventually suffer from the consequences of their behavior. Every broken promise of these U.S. politicians is a consumption of the US credibility.

Even if the U.S. side wants to restart consultations with China, will the Chinese people still trust the American politicians who, as described in a commentary published on the website of Forbes “has swung between saying that China is ‘absolutely killing the United States on trade’ and saying that ‘our relationship with China is a very good one’”?

The credibility of the U.S. is being gnawed away by the bad faith of some Washington politicians, which has been broadly perceived by people around the world. If these politicians continue acting this way, it won’t be long before the U.S. is trapped in grave peril.

In the vast ocean of world economy, the exchanges and trade between countries are based on credit and rules.

Mutual trust is the best binding agent in international relations. China is willing to work together with other countries in the world to make full use of dialogue and consultation and adhere to multilateralism, so as to jointly safeguard the “credit embankment” of human society.

China firmly believes that as long as the countries in the world can seek common ground while shelving and narrowing differences and carry out honest and in-depth dialogues and communication, they will surely enhance strategic mutual trust, press ahead with broad cooperation, and bring welfare to people around the world.

As ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “A man without trust can accomplish nothing.” Chinese people believe that the dishonest people will not achieve any good results.

All that happened in the last year has fully proven that the capricious behavior of some U.S. politicians, who constantly reneged on their word and tried every means to stifle China, doesn’t work well.

In short, the decision makers in Washington must pick up their trustworthiness and return to the right of credibility.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People's Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)  

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

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