US think tank article blind to reality of China-US trade relationship

By Gao Lei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/18 23:38:40

US think tank piece turns blind eye to China’s reality


Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


In a widely circulated piece, Robert D. Atkinson, founder and president of Washington DC-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, spared no effort to parse what he concluded was a "bogus response" by China's Ministry of Commerce to the latest US tariff announcement.

The 1,000-plus-word piece might have well turned Atkinson into an internet celebrity who impresses readers with verbal pyrotechnics that highlight his facility at deranged logic, making sham arguments that can be easily refuted, turning a selective blind eye to reality and indulging in reckless fabrications.

Exemplifying the conceited Canadian-American elite's sensational yet groundless remarks, the article stated that so-called "forced technology transfers" might well explain "why a survey of companies conducted by the EU found that only 12 percent of respondents would have chosen their current Chinese joint venture structure in the absence of Chinese JV requirements."

Ironically, it only reflects dissatisfaction against the restriction on foreign capital owning more than 50 percent of a company's shares. More than 50 percent of the companies in the same survey expressed their willingness to assume complete ownership.

Disliking the joint venture structure is why some companies have come up with excuses such as forced technology transfers. Another reason is the threats foreign companies feel from technology advances in China brought on by rapid economic development.

Those reasons have encouraged them to make a fuss when there is indeed no forced technology transfer in China. In reality, China only pays "license fees" for using technology, which benefits foreign companies more.

As to the "Made in China 2025" program, Atkinson deliberately turned a blind eye to two important facts.

One is that the US has massive subsidies in its own agricultural and manufacturing sectors. According to estimates from the Environmental Working Group, US farmers received $352.5 billion in subsidies from 1995 to 2016 through crop insurance and other programs. And agricultural products are among the major US exports to China.

It is obvious who is taking advantage of subsidies.

Manufacturing as well has been the recipient of many programs helping businesses in the US, from the federal government as well as at the local level, especially after 2012.

The second fact is that the Chinese government has said "Made in China 2025" will offer equal opportunities to domestic and foreign companies. China's first domestically built C919 jet is a classic example of win-win cooperation. The engines, avionics and aircraft flight control systems were from companies based in Europe and US including GE (General Electric) Aviation and Honeywell.

Also, 17 first-level suppliers and hundreds of second- and third-level suppliers from all over the world have provided parts for the jet.

Claiming that China is "stalling for time" to solve trade differences is even more absurd. If China has ignored so-called "US requests" for "over a decade" and "played rope-a-dope," how is it that bilateral trade and investment volumes have seen a steady increase for the past 10 years, since the US has never been a giver in the international arena?

Before Donald Trump became the US President, China and the US managed to control risks and disagreements through negotiations. Adjustments on both sides were made to avoid today's situation. Trump has not only taken the first shot by destroying the communication mechanism, he has also fired many shots against the US' traditional trade partners.

Atkinson's attempt to be witty only makes him look foolish. He writes that "Saying it is so doesn't make it so," trying to convince readers that China is only paying lip service when it pledges to encourage market competition, protect intellectual property rights and continue reform and opening-up.

The reality, nevertheless, is that China has been a better WTO member than the US, having only been sued at the organization 41 times compared with 90 times for the US.

For those who seek to smear China's image, the truth will eventually show they are wrong. China will continue to strive for growth and prosperity, along with all the peaceful countries in the world.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.
Newspaper headline: US think tank piece turns blind eye to China’s reality


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