Recently, a series of economic and trade actions initiated by the United States, from imposing large-scale tariffs on Chinese commercial goods to limiting mergers between Chinese and American enterprises, have triggered heated debates.
All these imply that the US is ready to wage a trade war despite China’s repeated warnings.
Donald Trump’s hammer-like trade policies have not inspired his countrymen. Instead, they have triggered public concern.
The US public worries that protectionist policies will increase commodity prices and living costs. American enterprises are not willing to witness rising costs of raw materials which can greatly reduce their exports.
Traditional American elites explicitly challenged Trump's plans. More than 100 republicans in the US Congress signed a letter a few days ago, urging Donald Trump to revise the recent tariff on steel and aluminum and the wide-ranging tariffs on various industries. Even former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers wrote about the trade dispute, warning that the trade war is just like a “nuclear war” and there is “no winner.”
Many global key actors also unanimously oppose America’s unilateral protectionism. Several traditional allies including the EU doubted the effectiveness of Trump’s tariffs. The newly appointed German Economy Minister Altmaier conducted consultations over punitive tariffs with the message that American tariffs on European steel and aluminum could prompt a trade war and burden all sides involved.
The American protectionist trade policies have been questioned by various parties because they reflect the “America First” principle. In January, Donald Trump mentioned as American president he will continue his “America First” policy. With the policy America’s own interests would be prioritized.
His statement actually exacerbated the concerns of international public over the US anti-globalization policies.
In contrast, China continues to follow the path of globalization through global free trade and investment. President Xi Jinping has said, “Pursing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room.” Trade war can only lead to lose-lose results.
China conducts foreign cooperation on the basis of inclusiveness, tolerance and mutual benefit. By insisting on the patterns of “bringing in” and “going global,” China has expanded two-way investment and trade to various partners to build an open world economy, and to inject new impetus into economic globalization. In November this year, China will hold the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai. All countries are welcome to participate in and share the new opportunities brought by China's development.
A global power is not supposed to focus only on its own interests. All the above-mentioned examples show that a unilateral trade war is unpopular. It is against the trend of the times and can only lead to self-inflicted wounds and increasing of one’s own burden.
The author is the deputy director of China Institute of International Studies.
(Compiled by Cao Yanghong)