Wed, Sep 26, 2018 - Page 10 News List

US putting ‘knife at neck’: Beijing

Reuters, BEIJING

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen (王受文) yesterday said it is difficult to proceed with trade talks while Washington is putting “a knife to China’s neck,” a day after both sides heaped fresh tariffs on each other’s goods.

When the talks could restart would depend on the “will” of the US, Wang told a news conference.

US tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods and retaliatory taxes by Beijing on US$60 billion of US products, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), kicked in on Monday as the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies escalated, unnerving global financial markets.

China also accused the US of engaging in “trade bullyism,” and said that Washington was intimidating other nations to submit to its will, a white paper on the dispute published on Monday by China’s State Council said.

“The sharp criticism [from Beijing on Monday] suggests that China might prefer to wait out the current US administration, rather than embarking on potentially futile negotiations,” Mizuho Bank Ltd said in a note to clients.

“Given these developments, it is increasingly likely that both sides will not resume negotiations for some time, at least until there is a noticeable shift in the political mood on either side,” it added.

Several rounds of China-US talks have appeared to produce no breakthroughs and fresh negotiations that had been expected in the coming weeks were canceled after Beijing late last week decided not to send a delegation to Washington.

This is not to say that all previous trade discussions have been useless, but the US has abandoned its mutual understanding with China, Wang said.

China does not know why the US changed its mind after reaching an agreement with China, Wang said, apparently referring to talks in May when it briefly appeared that a framework was being sorted out.

US exporters, including LNG suppliers, would “certainly” be hurt, but Beijing’s retaliation would provide opportunities to other LNG-exporting countries, Wang said, adding that Australia is an important source of the fuel for China.

“China is a big and powerful nation, so whether it is a confrontation with China economically or militarily, it would come at a huge price,” the state-backed Global Times wrote in an editorial yesterday.

“As such, it is an attractive prospect for other countries including the United States to coexist with China peacefully,” said the newspaper, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily.

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