White paper sends positive messages
China’s white paper on China-US economic and trade consultations sent firm and positive messages at a crucial junction of the bilateral trade relations, a US expert on China has said.
The tone of the white paper, titled “China’s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations,” is firm but restrained in making its key points, said Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-America Studies, in a recent interview with Xinhua via email.
“There were no bitter recriminations — the repeated instances of US backtracking were objectively laid out, and certainly no strong statement of threat or counter-measures was issued,” said Gupta. “China’s firmness of resolve was expressed in matter-of-fact terms and tone.”
Gupta said the point of the white paper seems to be to tone down the trade conflict, not aggravate it — even as it communicates to third parties as to how China and the United States got to this point in their conflict.
China’s State Council Information Office published the white paper recently, denouncing US unilateral and protectionist measures, criticizing its backtracking on China-US trade talks, and expounding China’s stance on trade consultations and pursuit of reasonable solutions.
In an escalation of the trade tensions, Washington on May 10 increased tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, and has threatened to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports. In response, China recently raised tariffs on a range of US imports.
Gupta said the white paper is “timed to convey the message that parties should adopt a constructive, forward-looking approach and, with sincerity and mutual compromise, both parties are eminently capable of making forward progress in the negotiations.”
China will fulfill its commercial obligations and is not afraid of being held to account in this regard, and its WTO dispute settlement record attests so, Gupta noted.
However, China is opposed to being held to account in a way that compromises a key aspect of sovereignty — the right to write one’s own laws without duress or interference, he added.
The white paper noted that every country has its own matters of principle and that on major issues of principle, China will not back down.
In a strategic context, the bilateral negotiations are still well consolidated and will come to fruition at some point, sooner rather than later, said the expert.