Smooth trade talks serve common interests of China and US

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/10 5:10:05

China will hold a new round of high-level economic and trade consultations with a US government delegation in Beijing on February 14 and 15. The US team is due to arrive on February 11, a few days ahead of the trade talks scheduled in Beijing, Xinhua reported on Saturday.

The news announced at the end of Chinese Lunar New Year holiday indicates that both China and the US are committed to implementing the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries during the G20 summit in Argentina in last December to secure a ground-breaking trade agreement.

Tensions and anxieties are starting to spike in the global market since the "hard deadline" of the final round of trade talks between China and the US is drawing near. Market stresses are expected given the pivotal roles that the two countries play in global trade and economies.

However, analysists around the world are generally optimistic about the possibility that agreement will be reached between China and the US. Although the US seems to have the idea of asking for higher prices at the last minute, it is still a common expectation among Americans that the trade war between China and the US can come to an end; and this expectation has already transpired into some political effect.

The Trump administration has been optimistic about the prospects of China and the US reaching a final trade agreement and the US stock market has seen a couple of surges to reflect those expectations. 

For Washington, to take a sharp turn on its stand during the trade talks is harmful to its policies and US President Trump will not be satisfied with the decision.

To reach the next breakthrough in the coming negotiation, it's reasonable to believe the delegations from both countries will take the interests as a whole into account instead of playing tug saw on a specific issue and ruining the results achieved during the past two months. We believe both delegations are able to compromise to find alternatives to achieve the final goals.

To date, the US has openly talked about China needing "structural reforms," especially in the hope that China will give up on its strategic plan "Made in China 2025." And the US has consistently expressed its concerns for a mechanism to ensure that China will implement the agreement.

For structural reform, China is determined to put greater efforts into expanding its opening up and reform. China will also make adjustments to enhance the legal protection of intellectual property rights and improve the non-public sector's status. China and the US have found common interest in those reforms. However, China will uphold the basic economic system and its right to develop high-tech manufacturing industries. The US government should have no more fantasies about China giving up its legitimate rights. After a few rounds of trade talks, it is reasonable to assume that the US is aware of where China's bottom line lies. US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit China soon and it is unlikely that the purpose of their visit is to challenge Beijing's bottom line.

Regarding the second issue, that is, how China implements the agreement, it is clear that the US misunderstood the commitments made by China when joining the WTO. Compared to the official evaluation from the WTO, the US' evaluation of China's compliance is far lower. The US regards what it wants China to do as what China is obligated to do. And the root cause of such illusion is that the WTO recognizes China as a developing country, while on the other hand, the US regards China as a developed country.

Indeed, some Western countries may have complained about China's inefficient execution of contracts, but none of them has gone as far as the US in their criticism. China has never been regarded by the international community as a country that breaks its promises. At the start of the US-China trade talks, Western media were strongly critical of China, even though the criticism of China dishonoring international agreements was not the mainstream voice. That is because China never did so.

China has never owed the UN any membership fee; China's peacekeeping forces have carried out missions in many conflict zones and have never violated any UN regulations; China is also actively implementing the Carbon Reduction plan. On the contrary, the US frequently owes overdue membership fees and has signed and abolished several international treaties. In terms of compliance with international treaties, it is no exaggeration to say that China's credibility is much higher than that of the United States, and China is more serious about the implementation of those regulations and treaties.

The 90-day negotiation between China and the US is to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries. The result shall be approved by the two leaders. It is not a trade consultation in the general sense. It is actually a negotiation process that is directed by both Chinese and US leaders. The joint efforts from the leaders of the two countries are crucial factors which have significant influence on the final agreement.

It is commonly known that China's head of state is also the political core of China and Chinese people have full awareness of political integrity, overall situation, the core and conformity with the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core. Thusly, Chinese political system makes the implementation of any trade agreement more efficient. On the contrary, the political ideology of the United States during this period is more uncertain, and if either side is to worry about the implementation of an agreement, it's more logical that those concerns would be by the Chinese. And China's execution of major issues is undoubtedly second to none in today's world.

The new round of trade talks will be decisive. Both the Chinese and US delegations must live up to the expectations of turning the consensus of the two heads of state into a comprehensive trade agreement between China and the US. 

The US government also needs to make rational judgements. If the negotiations fail, the US does not have more endurance than China. Both sides have no reason to turn a win-win situation into a total lose-lose outcome. In this case, no one shall stick to the idea of a unilateral victory. Mutual respect for the trade agreement must be the basic premise of a win-win situation.

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