OPINIONS Aggressor label on China puts ties at risk


Aggressor label on China puts ties at risk

Global Times

02:42, December 19, 2017

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Chinese experts warned of the danger of exaggerating the economic rifts between China and the US ahead of the publication of the Trump administration's new national security strategy which is likely to accuse China of "economic aggression."

Trump will lay out his administration's new US national security strategy on Monday, with US officials revealing that it will define China as a "competitor in every realm," and accuse China of engaging in "economic aggression," Financial Times reported on Saturday.

However, a White House official told CNBC that the report is "not accurate," and "the phrase [economic aggression] is not specifically linked to China."

China's Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a routine press conference on Monday that she was unable to comment on the US national security strategy until it was officially released, adding that China hopes the new US national security policy could play a constructive role in promoting world peace and stability, and enhance the mutual strategic trust between China and the US. 

Hua went on to say that the essence of the Sino-US trade and economic relations is mutually beneficial and win-win, while citing data that two-way trade volume exceeded $550 billion and created 2.6 million jobs, directly and indirectly, in the US in 2016. 

China is willing to work with the US to build robust, stable and healthy economic ties, which considers the interests of both China and the US and are in line with international expectation, Hua said. 

"The document will serve as a clear outlook for the world to understand US foreign policy priorities, filling a blank space Trump has left since taking office," Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations told the Global Times. 

Trump's national security adviser HR McMaster on December 12 provided a preview of the Trump administration's new national security policy, highlighting four vital national interests—protecting the homeland and American people, advancing American prosperity, preserving peace through strength, and advancing American influence, ABC News reported.

'Threat to US hegemony'

McMaster labeled China's economic aggression a threat that is "challenging the rule-based economic order that helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty." 

It is not surprising that the document reflects the disappointment US elites hold against China, as Washington deems Beijing benefited from a system laid out by the US, but is now trying to establish new international organizations of its own such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which poses a challenge to the US hegemony, Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the China Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

According to Michael Allen, a former Bush administration official, at Beacon Global Strategies, "The national security strategy is the starting gun for a series of economic measures against the Chinese," He refers to it as a "Rosetta Stone for translating campaign themes into a coherent governing document," the Financial Times reported on Saturday. 

The document is essentially more of a common voice of the US elite class establishment, which is often contradictory to President Trump's own voice on many issues, Li said, "So Trump will read it out loud to the public while very likely discounting it at the implementation stage."

Sino-US relations will become rockier but will not experience a massive reversal. It is unlikely that the US will impose large-scale sanctions and tariffs against China despite the tough rhetoric expected in the document, because it violates the principle of market economy and could otherwise backfire on the US in a way it cannot afford, as it will significantly affect employment and Chinese investment volume in the US, Liu further noted.

Li also warned that it is dangerous to introduce and exaggerate economic issues and present them as political and security problems, calling it "an outdated geostrategic mind-set that will be harmful for both parties."

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