OPINIONS US 'zero-sum' game harms the world


US 'zero-sum' game harms the world

People's Daily app

05:57, July 09, 2018


Recently, the US announced $34 billion worth of additional tariffs on Chinese imports, a move that invoked widespread criticism from the global community.

The US action reflects a negative mindset, one that only has room for competition rather than trying to achieve win-win results within the framework of international trade. When this zero-sum theory is applied to foreign trade, it runs counter to the rules. The practice not only affects China-US economic and trade cooperation but also creates global economic uncertainty.

The foundation for economic and trade cooperation rests within the complementary advantages between partners rather than a zero-sum philosophy. Having a comparative advantage has already been proven within Sino-US bilateral trade efforts. It is a strategy that thrives among open commodities as service and capital markets foster economic growth and prosperity. One side is the largest developing country in the world, and the other is the most developed, but even with the vast differences between the two, a symbiotic trade relationship beneficial to both is attainable. However, the reality of the situation is based on what both sides could gain through cooperation or lose from an all= out war.

The root of economic and trade cooperation is mutual benefit, a win-win result for both sides, unlike a sporting event where only one team can win. Last year, Sino-US trade reached $583.7 billion, a 233 percent jump from when the two countries first established diplomatic ties. The Chinese market has since become an essential service point-and-profit center for US companies and their global design. Reports have indicated that US export trade to China created 1 million job opportunities. Throughout the history of international trade, it has been proven time and again that unilateral protectionism is a zero-sum game that triggers trade wars without benefit to either side. It is not a solution to domestic problems, nor does it safeguard a nation’s workforce or solve domestic structural problems.

Economic and trade cooperation promotes equal prosperity rather than growth for just one side. Now more than ever, economic globalization is the foundation for the welfare and interests of the global community, it is the engine that drives such prosperity.

China-US economic and trade cooperation is an important part of economic globalization. The relationship has a massive influence and ensures global financial stability. Both are prominent figures within the international economic cycle, contributing 18.6 percent growth to the world’s trade volume, and that’s only counting total import-export goods and services.

Global economic recovery requires a stable trade and investment relationship. If the US insists on utilizing a protectionist trade strategy, it will disrupt international trade and hinder economic development at the global level.

As economic globalization continues to develop, interests among every nation become even more interconnected. Building a global community with a shared future for humankind is the call of the times and the path of wisdom.

As the largest developed country has a vital role on the world’s economic map, the US also has a greater responsibility as a nation to adapt to global development trends and uphold the concept of mutual benefits.

If the US insists on adhering to its winner-take-all philosophy, the result will only harm their national interests while damaging a foundation that took centuries to build. If all countries want to achieve sustainable economic growth, their only option is to focus on the ideas that are inherent to mutual benefits and a win-win strategy.

According to ancient Chinese philosophy, "All living things are nourished without injuring one another, and all roads run parallel without interfering with one another," and it is this very idea that sets the tone for economic globalization.  However, the "America First” idea is a form of egoism influenced by a zero-sum theory. The US has decided to challenge multilateralism by applying an outdated way of thought to achieve a unilateralist result. They have also provoked trade rules through hegemony, forcing other nations to sacrifice their own interests in efforts to appease US demands. US trade practices have typically centered on its own development, leaving the rest of the world behind.

The world is big enough to accommodate common prosperity and development for all. The US would stand to benefit a higher share of the dividends if it would only discard its zero-sum trade mentality and join the rest of the world on its path to global economic development. 

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