Chinese ambassador decries ‘economic bullying’

06 June 2019 | International

CATHERINE SASMAN



The Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, has put all the blame for the increasingly acrimonious China-US trade talks on the administration of President Donald Trump.

Speaking at a press conference in Windhoek yesterday, he said the United States’ behaviour was disrupting global industrial chains of supply and placing developing countries in an unfavourable trade status.

“As for African friends, when it is dark in the West, it is bright in the East,” Yiming said, calling on African countries to “take the express train of Chinese development and share its benefits”.

He said while the standoff between the two economic giants continued, China and Namibia had complementary economic advantages.

He said China offered a market of 1.4 billion people, adding that Namibia was of great priority and interest to China due to its vast land and rich natural resources.

“Exporting agricultural products such as oysters, beef, and grapes to China is of promising future and full of vitality. There is also great potential for China-Namibia agriculture and tourism cooperation,” Yiming said.

China will host its first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and the second China International Import Expo in June and November respectively.

Asked whether he was suggesting that African governments should take sides in the stalled trade talks with the USA, Yiming said: “Our purpose is to clarify our standing positions from our own perspective. I think our African friends and people in the world are fully intelligent to know yourselves who is the real friend who concentrate on development and prosperity in the world.”

Friction, not war

Yiming said the ongoing trade negotiations with the US was not a “war” as it was touted in international media, but a “friction”, which would inevitably involve other economies, including the African region.

Yiming said he wanted to “explain the truth of the trade friction, to win an understanding and support of everyone, to jointly oppose the economic bullying of the United States, and to maintain a sound world economic order”.

“As the two largest economies, China and the United States have the responsibility to establish a good international economic trade order and to promote the stable growth of the world economy,” Yiming said.

He said since 2017 the Trump administration in the US had been threatening additional tariffs and other measures and “provoked” frequent economic and trade frictions with other major trading partners.

Since February 2018, 11 rounds of China-US economic and trade consultations had been conducted and the two sides had agreed on most parts of a possible deal.

However, Yiming said, at the beginning of May this year when the consultations were about to be concluded, the US suddenly launched a tariff threat and started to bargain “recklessly again”.

On 10 and 13 May the US imposed additional tariffs on imports from China, amounting to US$500 billion.

Yiming said recently the US administration imposed “long-arm jurisdiction” and sanctions against Huawei and other Chinese companies on a “fabricated basis of national security”.

“In the face of the US’ unreasonable bullying, China has to take the necessary countermeasures,” Yiming said.

These measures included China’s announcement on 31 May that it would establish an “unreliable entity list system”, which Yiming said was “perhaps the best counterattack” to get “unscrupulous spoilers” and “untrustworthy people” bound by the rules of trade talks.

Yiming said the US, not China, had “unilaterally provoked” the escalated “frictions” and that it was the US, not China, who had backtracked on consensus reached.

“Even during the consultations the United States was performing hegemony and intimidation to the fullest. The United States has repeatedly violated consensus and changed its face. It is changing face like a young baby. The more the US government is offered, the more it wants,” Yiming said.

He said the US had repeatedly ignored China’s core concerns, persisted with exorbitant demands, maintained the additional tariffs imposed, and insisted on including mandatory requirements concerning China’s sovereign affairs, which Yiming said led to unsuccessful negotiations.

Moving forward

Yiming said what mattered now was how to manage the differences for a win-win outcome.

“China is willing to adopt a cooperative approach,” Yiming said, but this approach had “its own bottom line”.

“China cannot make concessions on major principle issues. China has made it clear that there is no winner in the trade war. China does not want a trade war, but is by no means afraid of fighting one. China is open to negotiation, but it will fight to the end if needed.”

Yiming said the United States’ “extremely selfish behaviour” violated the rules of the World Trade Organisation and damaged the bilateral trading system.

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