Sino-US deals signed last week top $253.5 bil­lion

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHONG NAN in Bei­jing zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The busi­ness deals reached be­tween China and the United States last week ac­tu­ally sig­nif­i­cantly ex­ceeded the $253.5 bil­lion signed at cer­e­monies dur­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s state visit to China, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior com­merce of­fi­cial on Mon­day.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Trump wit­nessed the sign­ing of com­mer­cial doc­u­ments with a to­tal value of $253.5 bil­lion on Thurs­day.

China’s Vice-Min­is­ter of Com­merce Yu Jian­hua said aside from those doc­u­ments, there were many deals in which agree­ments were reached sep­a­rately in­volv­ing com­plex, bigticket con­tracts such as chem­i­cal and en­ergy im­port deals that have taken months or years of ne­go­ti­a­tions to com­plete.

“These com­mer­cial con­tracts in­volve trade and in­vest­ment projects, with some need­ing to be im­ple­mented im­me­di­ately and some set­tled via long-term talks,” said Yu. With­out spec­i­fy­ing an amount for such con­tracts, he said they were sig­nif­i­cant and will ben­e­fit both coun­tries.

It took a month and half of talks, for ex­am­ple, be­fore China Petroleum and Chem­i­cal Corp and Bank of China were able to sign a joint de­vel­op­ment agree­ment last week with Alaska Gaso­line De­vel­op­ment Corp and the State of Alaska to jointly build an in­te­grated liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas sys­tem val­ued at $43 bil­lion.

Chi­nese and US com­pa­nies signed 34 deals worth $253.5 bil­lion dur­ing Trump’s visit, in­volv­ing en­ergy, the chem­i­cal in­dus­try, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, cul­ture, medicine, in­fra­struc­ture, smart city de­vel­op­ment, and busi­ness projects in mar­kets re­lated to the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road.

Yu said the re­sults achieved be­tween busi­nesses of the two na­tions dur­ing the visit demon­strates the ro­bust en­thu­si­asm and sup­port of the two busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties for a closer re­la­tion­ship. It will surely in­ject new im­pe­tus into eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions be­tween China and the US, he said.

“The meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Trump was a suc­cess­ful one and has great his­toric sig­nif­i­cance, draw­ing a new blue­print for bi­lat­eral eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions,” said Yu, who also is China’s deputy in­ter­na­tional trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

These deals meet the de­mand of com­pa­nies from both na­tions, as many high-tech US com­pa­nies are ea­ger to com­pete with their Euro­pean ri­vals, but cer­tain ex­port re­stric­tions still ex­ist, said Li Guanghui, vice-pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion in Bei­jing.

“China, in the mean­time, also needs a large num­ber of high­end US prod­ucts as the coun­try has al­ready en­tered a new era of de­vel­op­ment sup­ported by sup­ply-side struc­tural re­form with a stronger fo­cus on sup­ply qual­ity and eco­nomic re­bal­anc­ing,” Li said.

Wei Jian­guo, vice-pres­i­dent of the China Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Ex­changes, said, “Even though there are voices in the United States call­ing for pro­tec­tion­ist trade mea­sures or hav­ing a trade war with China, the two sides can work out new so­lu­tions, and bi­lat­eral ties won’t be shaken by such opin­ions.”

Wei called for closer col­lab­o­ra­tion in agri­cul­tural prod­uct trade, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, civil avi­a­tion and high-tech prod­ucts, clean en­ergy, fi­nance and ur­ban­iza­tion.

Robert Aspell, pres­i­dent of Cargill In­vest­ments (China), a branch of US agri­cul­tural con­glom­er­ate Cargill Inc, said his com­pany is glad to see pos­i­tive move­ment in China-US trade re­la­tions in re­cent months, and hopes to see fur­ther progress from Trump’s China visit that will strengthen bi­lat­eral eco­nomic ties and fa­cil­i­tate open and in­clu­sive global trad­ing poli­cies that ben­e­fit both coun­tries.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will con­clude his ex­tended visit to Asia on Tues­day, dur­ing which he has vis­ited Ja­pan, the Repub­lic of Korea, China, Viet­nam and the Philip­pines. But of all the coun­tries on his itin­er­ary, his three-day visit to China has been the high­light of his first trip to Asia as US pres­i­dent.

US-China re­la­tions are “at a new his­toric start­ing point”, as Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said in the open­ing re­marks at his meet­ing with Trump on Thurs­day, and co­op­er­a­tion is “the only cor­rect choice” for the two coun­tries.

That Xi’s re­mark is in­deed his­toric has been proven by the sign­ing of 15 com­mer­cial doc­u­ments worth a record $253.5 bil­lion be­tween the two sides on Nov 9, the “great chem­istry” be­tween the two lead­ers and the con­sen­sus on fully im­ple­ment­ing UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions on the Korean Penin­sula nu­clear is­sue and pres­sur­ing the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea to halt its nu­clear pro­gram.

Both pres­i­dents stressed the im­por­tance of find­ing peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to the DPRK nu­clear is­sue through di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tion. Since last year, the DPRK has ac­cel­er­ated its mis­sile and nu­clear pro­gram, and con­ducted three nu­clear tests in 20 months, for which it re­ceived strong in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and sanc­tions.

The DPRK mis­sile and nu­clear is­sue was on the agenda of the Xi-Trump sum­mit at Mar-a-Lago es­tate in Florida this April. The two sides agreed to toughen the in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions regime and put their words into prac­tice, through trade em­bargo, ex­port con­trol, and fi­nan­cial screen­ing.

Dur­ing Trump’s stay in Bei­jing, China and the US re­it­er­ated their com­mit­ment to main­tain the global non­pro­lif­er­a­tion regime and not ac­knowl­edge the DPRK’s sta­tus as a nu­clear weapons state.

But, in con­trast to the two sides’ un­der­stand­ing, RAND Cor­po­ra­tion re­cently re­leased a re­port, ar­gu­ing that China and the US are closer to a mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion now, com­pared with 2011, say­ing the ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula and in the South China Sea could be the flash points. Such sen­sa­tional re­port­ing goes against the re­al­ity, and the trend of the times.

While Trump has of­ten re­acted strongly to Py­ongyang’s bel­liger­ence, the US sec­re­taries of state and de­fense have re­peat­edly em­pha­sized the “four noes” — no in­tent of chang­ing regime (of the DPRK), no top­pling of (Py­ongyang’s) gov­ern­ment, no pro­mo­tion of quick re­uni­fi­ca­tion of the two Koreas, and no ad­vanc­ing of US troops be­yond the 38th Par­al­lel. These are as­sur­ing re­spon­si­ble state­ments. Also, of late, the DPRK has been quiet, es­pe­cially af­ter the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil im­posed its lat­est and most se­ri­ous sanc­tions on Py­ongyang.

It is now more than likely that Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing will col­lab­o­rate to search for more ef­fec­tive co­op­er­a­tive means to over­come the nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion threat in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion. In­stead of con­fronting each other, Chi­nese and US armed forces are more likely to con­verge their wis­dom to thwart the nu­clear threat.

The newly signed mas­sive trade agree­ments be­tween China and the US, in­clud­ing the pur­chase of US-made chipsets and soy­beans, should al­le­vi­ate fears over a trade war. And while em­pha­siz­ing China’s com­mit­ment to re­form and open­ing-up, Xi also said it is nat­u­ral for the two coun­tries to have trade fric­tions even though the Chi­nese and US economies are highly com­ple­men­tary.

To en­dorse the prin­ci­ple of equal­ity and mu­tual ben­e­fit, China will also ease mar­ket ac­cess to its fi­nan­cial sec­tor in­clud­ing bank­ing, se­cu­rity funds and in­sur­ance, and grad­u­ally re­duce taxes on im­ported cars. De­spite the US ad­min­is­tra­tion re­it­er­at­ing that Bei­jing is not ma­nip­u­lat­ing its cur­rency, Trump should re­al­ize that any un­war­ranted US im­po­si­tion of puni­tive tar­iffs on Chi­nese ex­ports to the US would cause eco­nomic dam­age on both sides.

As such, the two coun­tries should seize the op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther ex­pand their mar­kets which also suits China’s eco­nomic growth. And it can be pre­dicted that Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton would use Trump’s visit to re­al­ize the ob­jec­tive of mak­ing both China and the US great again.

... Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton would use Trump’s visit to re­al­ize the ob­jec­tive of mak­ing both China and the US great again.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor and as­so­ciate dean at the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, Fu­dan Univer­sity.

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