Trump’s ac­cu­sa­tion be­lies true state of trade ties

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is usu­ally de­scribed as a prag­matic and suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man — a man who knows how to cut a deal to his own ad­van­tage. So it has been strange to hear him say that he wants to use the US’ con­tin­ued ob­ser­vance of the one-China prin­ci­ple re­gard­ing Tai­wan as a bar­gain­ing chip in trade talks with Bei­jing, be­cause that has no lever­age. Tai­wan is part of China no mat­ter what he says.

How­ever, since he has in­di­cated with his pre-of­fice sound bites that his real in­ter­est is trade, let’s talk about trade.

De­spite their oc­ca­sional downs, bi­lat­eral re­la­tions have come a long way on an up­ward trend since China be­gan its on­go­ing open­ing-up.

Now, as the world’s two largest economies and each other’s big­gest trad­ing part­ners, China and the United States have de­vel­oped a “sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship”, achiev­ing a trade vol­ume of nearly $600 bil­lion last year.

Still, Trump likes to claim that China is not play­ing fair in its eco­nomic com­pe­ti­tion with the US, and even cries out this is “killing” the US econ­omy.

Soon after his “I was just be­ing po­lite” phone call with Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing-wen that had ac­tu­ally been long in the plan­ning, he raised his now fa­mil­iar ac­cu­sa­tion that China im­poses heavy taxes on US im­ports which the US does not do on Chi­nese goods.

Like so much of what he says, this stretches the facts in a direc­tion that is at odds with the truth.

China abides by World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion rules and ad­heres to its bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral trade and tar­iff agree­ments.

To put the two coun­tries trade re­la­tions into some kind of per­spec­tive, Gen­eral Mo­tors saw more than one-third of its 9.96 mil­lion ve­hi­cles sold glob­ally bought by Chi­nese cus­tomers last year, while 1 out of ev­ery 3 cars pro­duced in North Amer­ica uses parts and com­po­nents made by Wanx­i­ang, a Chi­nese-funded com­pany that em­ploys 12,500 peo­ple in the US.

History proves what is good for Sino-US re­la­tions is good for their economies.

Be­ing a com­pet­i­tive per­son­al­ity, Trump seems to be seek­ing to gain an up­per hand in what is es­sen­tially a win-win re­la­tion­ship with all his ir­ra­tional re­marks about China.

For the Amer­i­can econ­omy to be great again, as Trump sold his pres­i­den­tial bid to vot­ers, the US needs to ce­ment its eco­nomic re­la­tions with China, rather than de­stroy them.

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