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Huanqiu Editor’s Commentary: China Is Not a Rag for the U.S. to Use to Clean Its Dirty Table

{Editor’s Note: Amidst the U.S. request for China to take action to reduce the U.S.’ trade deficit against China by $100 billion, Huanqiu, a media under People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, published an editor’s commentary on March 15 rebutting the U.S. demand. It claimed, “If the United States attempts to cut a piece of flesh off of China, then the U.S.’ front teeth will be punched out.”

The following is a translation of the article.} {1}

A White House spokesperson clarified on March 14, 2018, that President Trump’s recent Twitter posting requesting China to reduce its $1 billion trade surplus with the U.S. was a clerical error and that the U.S. is actually demanding that China reduce its trade imbalance by $100 billion. This is probably the most unprecedented daylight robbery in the history of human being’s international trade.

On the same day, March 14, 2018, Trump appointed Larry Kudlow as Director of the White House National Economic Council. Kudlow is a television personality and economic commentator known for his tough stance on China. Several days ago, Kudlow indicated that he believed that the U.S. would exempt all of its allies from the newly imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, with the exception of China. In the first interview after Trump’s appointment, he expressed the hope that the U.S. “could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China.”

For these years, the U.S. economy has been unsatisfactory and slow compared to emerging economies such as China and India. Actually, it is better than other Western countries. The Trump administration made a series of unrealistic promises to his country and called for a sensational slogan in order to attract more votes. This is probably a product of a unique characteristic of the United States.

However, attributing the U.S. economy’s failure to reach its target as to the trade imbalance between China and the U.S. and accusing China of stealing jobs from Americans is treating China as a rag it is using to clean up its messy table. Shooting from the hip and requesting China to reduce its trade surplus by $100 billion – this is a super rag out of Washington’s imagination.

As for Kudlow’s desire to build a U.S.-led trade alliance against China, it is probably his habitual wild wishful thinking to win ratings. The U.S. has reneged on almost all trade agreements, including withdrawing from the TPP; the White House officials are doing nothing but calculating numbers out of self-interest. The whole world is condemning U.S. trade protectionism. How can the U.S. be able to put the squeeze on other countries so they confront China’s trade?

Washington is well aware that it is completely unrealistic for China to reduce its $100 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China so rapidly. It cannot possibly make unprincipled compromises to please the U.S. The U.S. should not dream of using ridiculous tariffs to threaten China and force China, which has always complied with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) rules, to accept the various imparity clauses that the U.S. has created simply out of its own will.

China is not a rag in the hands of the U. S. If the U.S. does not come up with a feasible plan to promote a trade balance and instead adopts brutal actions to impose tariffs on Chinese products on a large scale, then China is bound to retaliate. If the U.S. attempts to cut a piece of flesh off of China, then the United States’ front teeth will be punched out.

The Trump administration has shown a clear tendency to bully the weak but be subservient to the strong. It is because his government has a weak political foundation in the U.S., is eager to demonstrate some achievements and, at the same time, is afraid of causing major troubles. Once the U.S. has focused on targeting Chinese products, China should return the same, tit-for-tat. Isn’t Trump most concerned about votes? China should direct its revenge on agricultural and rust-belt states that support Trump and Republicans, to let those voters judge Trump’s stupidity and short-sightedness in its trade initiatives with China.

Chinese media can expand their coverage of the safety and health risks of U.S. agricultural products so that U.S. soybeans, corn, or beef will face difficulties being exported to China. Such an impact will be long-term.

If the Sino-US trade war is ultimately meant to be, then China should fully endorse it and let Washington thoroughly understand what it means to “kill one thousand enemies while sacrificing one’s own eight hundred.” Chinese society is very aware that our government does not want a trade war and has no choice but to counterattack. Therefore, the trade war will not affect the unity of Chinese society for at least a period of time. However, Americans all know that the Trump administration provoked the trade war. Its consequences will quickly become politicized in American society. The Trump administration will shoot itself in the foot and China will make him feel sorry for it.

Therefore, to use China unrealistically as a rag to clean the United States’ dirty table will place all dirty things in Washington’s own face. It is a mistake to use China as a rag because this rag will not absorb grease (or other bad things as the U.S. hopes).

China does not have to worry that our retaliation will be too “brutal” and may further fuel the U.S.’ desire to fight. It is more important to set rules for the relations between China and the U.S. than to maintain a friendly atmosphere. China is much more powerful in trade than any of the U.S.’ allies. Washington should be rationale rather than arrogant when dealing with China. We must use our actions to make the U.S. establish this understanding. For this reason, we should not fear paying the price.

{1} Huanqiu, “China Is Not a Rag for the U.S. to Clean Its Dirty Table,” March 15, 2018.