Is this the new normal for China - US relations?

24.09.2018 13:30

By Tom Cheshire, Asia correspondent

Unlike the US, the Chinese government is scrupulous in avoiding calling the current exchange of import tariffs with the US a "trade war".

They might be right: this is not a war, but a new and different relationship between the two biggest economies in the world. And a step back from globalisation.

On Monday, both sides imposed their latest sets of tariffs. As a bonus, China released a 36,000 word paper about its trade relationship with the US.

Some of this contained the usual rhetoric from Beijing: that it was seeking a "rational" response and "reasonable" solutions, once again warning of the "grave threat to the multilateral trading system and the principle of free trade".

The US was the one using "trade bullyism practices" — engaging in "unilateralism, protectionism and economic hegemony".

All of this is true — and that is why we’re stuck. The US, tired of trying to get China to act like the US, has decided instead to act like China.

Sky Views: Is Trump prepared for war with China?

Sky Views: Is Trump prepared for war with China?

Sky News correspondent Katie Stallard says this is not The Art Of The Deal — and China is not interested in playing at all.

China refuses to address any of the substantive accusations made against it by the US — that it enforces technology transfers from US companies; uses hackers to steal intellectual property; that it keeps out western competitors from its huge internal market (try logging on to Facebook here in Beijing or paying with Mastercard), or that its state-backed companies benefit from huge subsidies and opaque contract awards.

China has been the one peddling protectionism.

Whatever experts think of tariffs and the trade war — and the majority seems to view them as a bad idea — they tend to agree with this diagnosis.

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