Skip to content Government Officials and the Media Misinterpreted Xi Jinping’s Intentions

On July 6, the U.S. launched a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of imports from China. Hong Kong published an article on an interview it had with a Chinese official who works in the foreign diplomacy department and chose not to be identified. The official conveyed a very different message from the official Chinese media. It could be an indication that Beijing wants to change its position in the Sino US trade War. Below is a summary of the statement the official made during the interview.

Beijing reached a consensus internally long ago that the Sino-US trade war was inevitable and that Sino-US relations will enter an unprecedented period of tension. Since the 18th Congress, China’s internal and external policies have shown that China hopes to enhance its international status and increase its international influence. It has used a certain approach that has violated the existing economic and security practices that the U.S. has established. The U.S. has made frequent diplomatic accusations.

Xi Jinping clearly understands the gap in which China lags behind the U.S. and that the U.S. is the only superpower in the world. However, some officials and media have misinterpreted Xi’s intention. Xi never wanted to change the foreign policy of “hide our capabilities and bide our time” left from the Deng Xiaoping era. Two proposals that Xi made were based on his assessment of China’s current situation: the first was that, “the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the U.S.” and the second was the “one belt one road project.” Xi made the first proposal and wanted the U.S. to understand that China has no intention of threatening the U.S. position in the Asia Pacific region. The second proposal was meant to fix the excess domestic capacity and create more job opportunities for the Chinese people. However there are a considerable number of officials within the Chinese government and some of the Chinese Communist Party’s media who misinterpreted the central strategic intentions. They interpreted that first proposal as if Beijing wanted to be equal to the U.S. and challenge the U.S. dominant position in the world. The official media took the second proposal and widely promoted nationalism and populism in China. This caused an unrealistic expectation among Chinese officials and the general public. The official also blamed the western media for capitalizing on the opportunity. They widely publicized the nationalism and populism trends and caused China’s image to suffer a big loss in the international community. In summary the current Sino-US relationship resulted from the officials misinterpreting the central government’s intention, making improper judgments, and issuing improper instructions. The media then publicized the populist sentiments. The article that People’s Daily recently published was meant to correct the hyperbolic and boastful writing style that the official media have used.

As to the future of the Sino-US relationship, China will continue to maintain reasonable and polite diplomacy with the U.S. It will find different channels so as to establish a unilateral solution to minimize the negative impact to China’s domestic economy, serve China’s national interest, and fight for the interests of the Chinese people.

Source:, July 10, 2018