To US: ‘We will fight to the end’

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Yang Sheng

“Talk? Our door is wide open. Fight? We will fight to the end!”

This un­usual mes­sage on the trade war with the US dis­sem­i­nated by China’s state broad­caster dur­ing the coun­try’s most-watched daily news show on Mon­day night was a top search topic on so­cial me­dia on Tues­day.

China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion (CCTV) ran an edi­to­rial “China has made com­pre­hen­sive prepa­ra­tion” to specif­i­cally an­nounce China’s stance on the trade war launched by the US in the col­umn Guoji Ruip­ing, or “sharp com­ments on in­ter­na­tional af­fairs,” dur­ing the broad­cast of the daily news pro­gram, Xin­wen Lianbo.

“On the trade war pro­voked by the US, China’s stance has been made very clear: We don’t want this fight, but we are not afraid of it and we will fight if it’s nec­es­sary,” the anony­mous edi­to­rial said.

not mince words about China’s plan to fight back.

“When it comes to a trade war, China does not want to fight one or is will­ing to fight one, but China is also ab­so­lutely not afraid to fight one,” Geng said. “If some­one has brought the fight to our doorsteps, we will fight to the end.”

Though the spokesper­son did not spec­ify mea­sures, China ap­pears to keep op­tions open. Asked about claims in so­cial me­dia that China should stop pur­chas­ing US agri­cul­tural and en­ergy goods and Boe­ing airplanes if it re­tal­i­ates, Geng de­clined to com­ment about the re­port but also stopped short of is­su­ing a de­nial.

US of­fi­cials ap­pear to be mov­ing for­ward with a threat to im­pose tar­iffs on $300 bil­lion in Chi­nese goods. They plan a pub­lic hear­ing on June 17.

China an­nounced it will im­pose tar­iffs of be­tween 5 per­cent and 25 per­cent on $60 bil­lion in US prod­ucts start­ing June 1 in re­sponse to the US de­ci­sion to in­crease tar­iffs on $200 bil­lion in Chi­nese goods.

US mis­cal­cu­la­tion

China’s re­tal­i­a­tion on Mon­day might have sur­prised US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and other US of­fi­cials, who ap­peared to think that they could use tar­iffs to pres­sure China into sign­ing an agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to Wei Jian­guo, a for­mer Chi­nese vice com­merce min­is­ter.

“I don’t think they thought about China’s will and re­solve to de­fend its core na­tional in­ter­ests and ma­jor con­cerns, es­pe­cially at the fi­nal stage,” Wei said. “They also haven’t con­sid­ered China’s abil­ity to stand up to pres­sure… and the re­ac­tion from US [con­sumers and com­pa­nies].”

Geng also said that some in the US might have mis­cal­cu­lated the sit­u­a­tion, con­tin­ued to con­fuse the pub­lic, and asked for un­rea­son­ably higher prices. “So we would cer­tainly push back against th­ese claims,” Geng said.

US of­fi­cials have claimed that China walked back on a “95 per­cent” done deal and blamed that for the es­ca­la­tion.

Cit­ing pre­vi­ous cases where the US back­tracked from deals, Geng said that the US can­not ac­cuse China of walk­ing back from its po­si­tions and prom­ises.

Pro­longed war

Though both Chi­nese and US of­fi­cials left some room for fur­ther talks, with Trump pub­li­cally call­ing for a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the G20 sum­mit in Ja­pan in June and Chi­nese of­fi­cials call­ing for the US to meet China half­way, no for­mal plan has been an­nounced so far, lead­ing some to be­lieve this could be a pro­longed trade war.

To pre­pare for a pro­tracted war, an­a­lysts said, China must con­tinue to carry out re­forms and open­ing-up mea­sures to boost mar­ket vi­tal­ity and ex­pand over­seas mar­kets for Chi­nese prod­ucts to re­duce reliance on the US mar­ket or any other sin­gle mar­ket.

“The re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy has been a magic key for China to ad­dress se­ri­ous is­sues over the past 40 years. And a magic key is what we need to deal with the sit­u­a­tion now,” said Cao Heping, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity, not­ing that more con­crete ac­tions are needed.

China has opened up more sec­tors to for­eign in­vestors, in­clud­ing fi­nance, man­u­fac­tur­ing and health­care, and passed a new For­eign In­vest­ment Law to of­fer greater mar­ket ac­cess and bet­ter pro­tec­tion for for­eign firms. It has cracked down on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights vi­o­la­tions and sought to in­crease for­eign goods.

“The trade war has not changed and will not change China’s pace for fur­ther re­form and open­ing-up,” Liu Ying, a re­search fel­low with the Chongyang In­sti­tute for Fi­nan­cial Stud­ies at Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China in Bei­jing, told the Global Times on Tues­day.

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