China opening up, but won’t compromise on issues involving economic sovereignty

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/18 22:03:40

In the current trade dispute with the US, the Chinese government and its people will make absolutely no concessions on issues related to economic sovereignty, although misleading information may confuse global investors.

The Financial Times said Wednesday that "Beijing has conceded to US policymakers by lifting ownership rules that limit foreign investment in Chinese carmakers." The comments may represent the view of some Western people who believe Beijing is willing to make concessions to avoid direct conflict with an important trading partner.

Of course, China doesn't want to risk an all-out trade war and hopes that it can get along well with the US. But some people underestimate the determination of the Chinese government to safeguard China's economic sovereignty and national interests.

China's State planner said on Tuesday it will remove foreign ownership caps on new-energy vehicle (NEV) joint ventures. The move didn't come in response to the demands and expectations of Washington in order to solve the ongoing trade dispute, but was an indispensable part of the established agenda for China's development in the long run.

Several months before US President Donald Trump aroused controversy by threatening to slap tariffs on Chinese imports, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen pledged that China would widen market access for NEVs, a sector in which foreign companies have long complained about the 50 percent limit on their ownership of joint ventures in China.

China can be expected to follow its own pace by further opening up its market to foreign enterprises. Although some measures could easily lead to misunderstandings and misjudgments that Beijing is willing to bend to US demands, China is unlikely to slow down its opening-up program.

On the other hand, China will also not be in a rush to undertake drastic reforms relating to foreign trade and investment, which would disturb the process of economic development.

In trade disputes with China, Trump has made some unreasonable demands that would damage China's national interests and even economic sovereignty. If Trump starts a trade war, China will fight to the end and make no concession.

China's determination to fight against Trump's threat of a trade war is genuine. Taking a close look at the comments circulated on Weibo and WeChat public accounts, which are prime platforms of open expression and reflection of public opinion in China, people will find that Chinese society has widely endorsed the attitude of the Chinese government over the trade dispute. The Trump administration should take Beijing's stance seriously with no illusions.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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