China-US trade cease-fire augurs well though uncertainty lingers

By Wei Jianguo Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/5 12:13:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump reached an important consensus on stabilizing bilateral trade relations in Buenos Aires on Saturday, which set a good example of solving major economic and trade issues with wisdom and pragmatic spirit.

The consensus contains loads of information, one of which is crucial: Both sides understand that it is completely normal for the two countries to have differences over economy and trade, and the point is to deal with them appropriately and seek solutions acceptable for both sides on the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit and equality. It is necessary for both countries to maintain close contacts through various means and jointly push forward bilateral ties.

The two leaders have slammed the brakes on the trade war in a timely manner and laid a solid foundation for the next round of talks, raising expectations of bringing China-US economic and trade relations back to the right track as soon as possible. The Xinhua News Agency has used more positive words in reporting the trade truce than ever before.

Though public opinion is positive, an issue is worth noting. Some entrepreneurs and experts seem to believe that the China-US trade war is about to end. And this view is way too optimistic.

It is true that China and the US agreed to stop imposing additional tariffs and step up negotiations to reach an agreement. However, it should be clarified that tensions have not completely ceased. It can be just called a trade war truce or temporary freeze in the escalating dispute now.

How the talks between the negotiating teams of the two countries will be going is the key. The best outcome could be that the two sides reach an agreement in 90 days to truly end the trade war. Nevertheless, this may be hard to achieve and full of uncertainties given the negotiations with the US in the past year.

China has been fully prepared for the complexity, arduousness and length that the trade negotiations will involve. It doesn't expect to resolve all issues within the 90 days. But it's at least a good start for the solution that the two sides can talk to prevent the frictions from escalating. Chinese negotiators will address the divergences flexibly but meanwhile stick to our bottom line and not accept unreasonable demands.

The atmosphere and the result of the meeting between Xi and Trump during the G20 summit have exceeded expectations. Beijing will handle whatever happens next with strong strategic focus and will continue performing well in things that are supposed to be done.

At the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, China has to take all measures to open wider to the outside world promptly. It also needs to enhance the intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, accelerate IPR legislation, increase punishment and cost for IPR infringement. This is needed for our innovation and creativity.

Besides, China has to promote quality development in the country with higher-level opening-up to promote the better integration of Chinese and US economies. The US will then realize that China's development will bring more benefits rather than harm to the US.

The author is a former Chinese vice minister of commerce and executive deputy director of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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