Concurrent trade war and talks will become new norm

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/19 21:28:40

China is engaging in trade talks with the US while fighting a trade war. It reminded many Chinese people of a similar situation during the Korean War (1950-53) when China helped North Korea resist the military action of the US. The two sides began to talk one year after outbreak of the war and simultaneously carried on combats in the battlefields until an armistice was signed in 1953.

Although today's trade war is different from Korean War, the Chinese people's memories of engaging in talks and fights at same time remains fresh. It let Chinese people realize that the trade frictions between China and the US will not end very soon. 

The past 11 rounds of talks have told us it wasn't easy. However, one important reason it was impossible to reach a deal in a short term was that the US wanted to subdue China, because Washington cannot accept Beijing leading it in some fields. Consultations cannot eliminate such paranoia of the US about China, thus the frictions between the two countries will persist in a long term.

Current China-US relations can find no resemblance in those between the world's largest and second largest countries of any era. A deep integration has been formed in the past four decades of exchanges between China and the US. The huge volume of trade is the outcome of this process, which makes the two sides have to solve problems by negotiations. The depth of integration influences the difficulty of talks, while the changes in strength of the two sides determine what cards they can play. 

When the US decided to protect its predominant position by subduing China and gaining the so-call win in a zero-sum game, negotiations are bound to be complicated and twisted. 

Since February 2018, negotiations had made progress through the twists and turns, created by the fickle Trump administration. Similar cases happened many times before and China has inured to them. Therefore, Beijing will handle the issue calmly and talk with or counterattack Washington when needed.

Chinese media outlets kept a cool head when the US announced the increase in tariffs on Chinese goods several days ago and now they are showing a solid Chinese stance. The change shows that Chinese society and people are aware the negotiations will continue for a long time.

The phone conversation between Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday showed that both sides are willing to address trade issue. 

China will not simply trust what the US says. Beijing needs to take necessary actions according to Washington's next moves, and Beijing is ready to engage in both talks and a fight. 

Beijing will grasp the general direction of the consultations instead of being bothered by some particular matters at certain times. The contest between China and the US rests on the negotiating skills and the determination of the political system. In terms of the capability of comprehensively countering the US' attacks, today's China is far more powerful than it was in the 1950s during the Korean War.

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