“Cooperation is the only correct choice for both sides”, is the resounding message of the Chinese white paper published on June 2nd, 2019 (full text available here).
The paper titled “China’s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations” establishes Beijing’s position with regards to the trade war which has been dominating the headlines and disturbing the markets. This white paper follows “The Facts and China’s Position on China-US Trade Friction” which was previously published by the The State Council Information Office in September, 2018 (full text available here).
The China-US trade war commenced in 2018 after a series of tariffs were imposed by both parties in a tit-for-tat reciprocal manner, tensions between the two countries cooled in December 2018 during a period of negotiations between the two nations.
However, following the 90-day reprieve, a compromise was unable to be reached and further tariffs were levied first by the United States, and then in retaliation, on the 1st of June 2019, by China.
The white paper establishes the current position of the Chinese negotiators following the 3 months of negotiations and affirms the Chinese desire for a cooperative resolution to the trade disagreements.
The white paper starts with a spirited defence of China’s Intellectual Property (IP) regime and reaffirms China’s commitments to adhering to the international norms of Intellectual Property protection standards by quoting former WIPO Director General Arpad Bogsch “China’s achievements are “unmatched in the history of intellectual property protection””.
The paper then progresses to establishing the importance of good bilateral relations between China and the United States, covering the depths of the economic ties both countries have with each other and how “China-US commercial cooperation has brought substantial benefits to both countries and both peoples”.
Section 3 of the white paper establishes the Chinese position for future negotiations between the two nations, it reinforces the position that China is committed to future credible consultations based upon equality and mutual benefit between both parties, while taking a realist approach to the conflict. It is undeniable in the Chinese view that in international trade parties will at some point experience differences, but what is important is that mutual trust and cooperation will prevail and help mitigate the differences. The white paper professes the Chinese desire to resolve the issues through dialogue with patience and sincerity, while reaching a common ground between the two nations. The 11 rounds of negotiations which occurred earlier this year have led to significant progress in resolving the issues in the eyes of the Chinese negotiators and have aligned Sino-US viewpoints on certain issues.
The white paper closes with China willing and hoping to engage diplomatically to resolve the trade disputes with the United States in a sense of fairness and equality, however this is belied by the statement that China will not back down invoking the image of a steel hand in a velvet glove. Cooperation is the only choice for China and America and presents a win-win situation for both nations, and by extension the world economy.