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Liu Zhiqin: Sino-US trade war may be protracted battle of attrition


By Liu Zhiqin    Source: Global Times    Published: 2018-3-27

The story of the farmer and the viper is well-known. The freezing viper betrayed the kind farmer by biting him. Now the world is witnessing a modern version of this story.

Recently, the US government set forth a "precision strike" against China, imposing tariffs on Chinese products. After announcing exemptions for its traditional allies, the punitive policies stayed in force for China.

It`s the classic story of the "farmer and the viper."

China has been treating the US fairly during the past 40 years of reform and opening-up. When US was hit by the financial crisis, China agreed when Hillary Clinton, the then US Secretary of State, proposed that China and the US should work hand-in-hand to overcome difficulties. China kept its word.

When the US was in deep trouble, China did not stand by, undercut or take advantage of the situation. Instead, China did its best to alleviate the shock and pressure of the financial crisis for the US by such measures as the stabilization of the yuan`s exchange rate. China also acted as a responsible major power, contributing to the US and world economic recoveries by industrial structure adjustment and upgrading.

However, the mind-blowing fact is that the US government, which got a break from the economic downturn, repaid kindness with enmity. The behavior on the US side has stunned the Chinese people and the world. What is wrong with the US? Is the US trying to make China regret its kindness to the US?

Many American politicians have always believed that the development of China takes advantage of the US. But the reality is China is the one who jumped in and pulled the US out of deep water. Without China, the US would probably still be in trouble.

China does not expect repayment for its good deeds, but it does not want to be bullied or blamed, nor does it want to fall into traps or be ripped off. The bad action by the US has turned out to be a huge irony. The modern civilization and values boasted of by US politicians is a code of conduct similar to the viper.

US politicians were talking like a viper, accusing China of "economic aggression." In world history, China has been the last country to conduct "economic aggression." China doesn`t have the money, the influence or the ambition. Now it is time to go over history to unveil the true purpose of economic hegemony that the US is putting into practice.

The US has sacked the world with two crises in the past 10 years. One was the financial crisis in 2008, the other will be the trade crisis that has just been initiated.

The US and world economies dodged a bullet thanks to a rescue by China. But whether the world can get through the coming trade crisis requires global joint efforts. China has done all it can to minimize the losses of this trade crisis.

The US-China trade dispute is not about trade itself. US President Donald Trump intends to kill two birds with one stone. He hopes to enter the Chinese technology sector while closing the US technology market to China.

Piracy and intellectual property rights (IPR) are often used by Trump to point a finger at China, and they have become ongoing pretexts. But they do not tell the full story.

When it was founded, the US was an agricultural country with virtually no technology. What made the US we see today is having used and transformed British industrial designs and technologies that were ahead of the world. Moreover, the US should thank the scientific minds of Europe and Japan brought by immigration inflows after World War II, which helped secure the US` leading advantage in IPR.

The US has to abandon the bad habit of "technology bias," thinking that only the US can invent global technology. This bias has greatly hindered the balance of global technology development and contributed to the polarization of rich and poor.

China, on the other hand, will continue to build science and technology, benefiting the world.

A US-China trade war is on the verge of erupting. It is easier to start a war than end one. The conflict will become a protracted war of attrition that benefits nobody. China should make other countries see the truth and protect themselves from the betrayal of the US.

Chinese people will adhere to the spirit of reform and opening-up and focus on their own development without being disturbed by the US.

Trump can keep putting on his show, but it will not stop the pace of China. Hopefully, the tragedy of the farmer and viper will not repeat between countries.

The author is a senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words:China   US   relations   Liu Zhiqin  

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