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Pence China Speech: Inappropriate sentiments, at an inappropriate time

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online)    16:51, October 29, 2019

On 24 October 2019, US Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars about the future of the U.S. relationship with China as both countries work to resolve their outstanding trade differences. However, certain sentiments expressed by Pence seem inappropriate, especially at this critical moment, when negotiations are underway to improve US-China trade relations. While the world has high expectations from negotiations, negative remarks may harm talks.

China and America are two big economies and contribute a great deal to the global economy. Both countries have a responsibility to help strengthen the global economy as well as strive for global peace and stability. Unfortunately, a trade war broke out between the two nations in 2018, when the US imposed high tariffs on Chinese products. China tried its best to convince its American counterparts not to impose irrational tariffs, but when left with no other option, China reciprocated in a similar manner.

The tension between China and the US continued to grow on other fronts too, including American sanctions on Chinese companies in high-tech areas, visa restrictions for Chinese students, visa restrictions for Chinese intellectuals, scientists and especially on teachers of Confucius Institutes. The latest visa restrictions on Chinese officials from Xinjiang have further worsened the situation.

One-third of international students in America are from China, so these restrictions may harm Chinese students, but may harm American universities even more. The imposition of tariffs on Chinese products may have harmed Chinese companies, but may have hurt the American public even more. The hike in consumer prices has made the life of common man tough, especially the middle classes, who depended on low-cost Chinese products for their basic needs.

According to the U.S-China Business Council report, 97 percent of U.S. companies surveyed reported profits from doing business with China. Trade with China saved a yearly average of 850 dollars for every U.S. family, and U.S. exports to China alone supported over 1.1 million American jobs from 2009 to 2018. US-China trade tension has harmed this.

China is a big country with a huge population, with a relatively big domestic market. Chinese development is more visible on its coast, but inner provinces require more investment, and provide a huge space for China to invest and generate more domestic demand. A trade war might have harmed China too, but being a huge market in itself means it can compensate domestically. China is an emerging economy and can generate more domestic demand and overcome the trade loss resulting from the trade war.

In pursuance of its centuries-old wisdom “Peaceful Development”, China is struggling to diffuse tension with other nations, especially with the US, and is ready to resolve differences. China is struggling for peace and stability in the world and is willing to cooperate with all other nations for sustainable development.

We can only move forward by respecting each other and pushing for cooperation. The Chinese approach of “win-win” is the best available option. It will be in the best interest of both countries, and may also be in the best interest of global peace, stability, and prosperity.

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the People’s Daily Online.

About the author: Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected] 

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