Why does the administration of Donald Trump engage in a trade confrontation with China? So far, there is no complete explanation. Some believe he wants more votes. Others think he really wants to address the US trade deficit issue with China. Some contend that containing China's technological progress is his real purpose and that is why the list of tariffs targets Chinese industries such as aerospace, telecoms and artificial intelligence.
The US has trade conflicts not only with China. It is determined to rewrite world trade rules on its own. Its trade war with Europe may also escalate.
The WTO provides the framework for free trade. China has fulfilled the pledge it made when joining this institution. China's foreign trade has been supervised by WTO rules and disputes were settled in accordance with the rules.
After China became the world's second largest economy, opening itself wider is the dominant principle for further development. China has been preparing measures to further open up the country since last year, which were announced at this year's Boao Forum for Asia in April. China has issued measures to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, broaden market access and cut tariffs. On June 28, China unveiled a shortened negative list for foreign investments, reducing the constraints of foreign investments in China.
China and the US have conducted three rounds of negotiations over trade. China has promised to buy more products from the US. These products are what China needs and the US is willing to sell, mainly agricultural products and energy. In one of his tweets in May, the US President said, "Under our potential deal with China, they will purchase from our Great American Farmers practically as much as our Farmers can produce."
China does not want to get involved in a trade war. Discrepancies over trade can be gradually resolved. But if the Trump government wants to contain China's high-tech development and marginalize its promising high-tech industry, it will be quite another case.
It is China's right to develop its high-tech industries, including aerospace, telecommunications and artificial intelligence. It does not make sense that China cannot set foot in these fields just because the US is in the lead or believes that if Beijing ever achieves any results, they would all be "stolen" from Washington. This is a severe distortion of the spirit of intellectual property.
The US made tremendous contributions to the development of science and technology. But it has only been at the forefront of technological innovation over the past century. The entire human civilization has already had a history of thousands of years, during which China also made outstanding achievements in promoting global scientific and technological progress. There is no way for the US to arrogantly believe that the whole world's modernization is taken from the US.
The US is the world's biggest power in the aerospace industry. But Americans must not forget that it was the former Soviet Union which successfully launched the world's first artificial satellite. The first astronaut also came from the Soviet Union. Can we say US space technologies were stolen from the Soviet Union?
If Washington wants to maintain its status as the most technologically advanced country in the world, it must keep leading the globe's technological innovation and come up with more achievements. Washington does not have the right to ask Beijing not to develop something and it is impossible for China to listen to its command.
If the US is determined to escalate conflicts with China, then so be it. Perhaps the Trump administration can only clear its mind after a fight.