Yellen’s defense of US tariffs on China ‘feeble with geopolitical aims’: expert
Published: Jun 21, 2024 11:05 PM
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addresses an Atlantic Council Front Page event on April 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen addresses an Atlantic Council Front Page event on April 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP

As US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday reportedly defended US President Joe Biden's increased tariffs on certain Chinese goods as highly strategic, Chinese experts said on Friday that her defense is "feeble" and has some geopolitical aims, adding that the US will shoot itself in the foot with the tariffs and damage global supply chain and economic recovery.

According to a report by Reuters on Friday, Yellen told a news briefing that Biden's new tariffs are aimed at protecting electric vehicles (EVs), solar energy products and semiconductors from so-called excess Chinese capacity, adding that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's tariff proposals would be much broader and raise costs for consumers.

On top of existing tariffs under Section 301, the US on May 14 decided to raise additional tariffs on its imports of Chinese products including EVs, lithium-ion batteries, solar cells and critical minerals.

"Yellen's remarks are feeble and serve geopolitical aims. No matter how Yellen defends it, tariffs on China hurt others' interests without benefiting oneself," Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

Wang noted that viewing China as a "threat" is simplistic and one-sided, as the global economy is interconnected and countries cooperate and compete with each other. Moreover, it is debatable whether the imposition of tariffs can really be effective in protecting US domestic industries and could have a negative impact on the global economy.

The decision to impose tariffs will lead to an increase in the cost of imported goods, which is ultimately passed on to consumers, resulting in higher purchasing costs for them, Wang further noted, adding that businesses have to pay higher costs to import raw materials or products, which could reduce their profits and competitiveness. In addition, tariffs can lead to disruptions and increased uncertainty in the global supply chain.

"The US action may also involve geopolitical considerations, that is to say, using economic means to exert pressure or achieve certain political objectives," said Wang.

China firmly opposes and has lodged solemn representations over the further increase of additional tariffs on some Chinese goods by the US, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday.

The US side ignores WTO rules, insists on retaining and increasing tariffs under Section 301, and politicizes and weaponizes economic issues, which runs counter to the important consensus reached by the two countries' heads of state and is a typical example of political manipulation, said MOFCOM spokesperson He Yadong at a regular press conference on Thursday.

The US side should immediately rectify its wrongdoing and remove the additional tariff measures against China, said He.

Global Times