Win-win cooperation, rather than unilateralism, is the right choice
By Mr. Lyu Jian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand
The international economy and trade are facing mounting downward pressure and uncertainties, among which, the trade war, which was unilaterally provoked by the US Administration, is the biggest source of risk, posing a grave threat to the prosperity and stability of the world, and Asia in particular.
The US has withdrawn its preferential trade treatment of India, cut the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) granted to 11 types of Thai products, added countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore to the watch list for currency manipulation, and singled out China out as a major target on which to impose additional tariffs. Almost all countries in the region are suffering from export decline and economic slowdown, falling victim to unilateralism and protectionism.
The trade war places us, once again, at a cross road where we have to make a choice, whether to hold the line or make concessions time and again, whether to narrow or sharpen differences, whether to respect each other or exercise unilateral power. History tells us repeatedly that it is impossible to trade compromise for peace. We should take warning from the trade war that took place in East Asia in the 1980s. Only by adopting a future-oriented approach, pursuing win-win cooperation and accommodating each other’s reasonable concerns in a balanced way can different parties’ interests and the whole world’s aspirations be met. There is no better choice than this.
The Chinese side always knows that no one will emerge as a winner in a trade war, and therefore hopes to reach a win-win agreement with the US through equal-footed and mutually beneficial consultation in good faith. However, it is regrettable that the consultation suffered severe setbacks due to the inconsistency of the US Administration. It serves no one’s interests, and the voice inside the US opposing its imposition of additional tariffs is getting louder and louder. Just a few days ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump had a telephone conversation and agreed to meet during the G20 Osaka Summit. The Chinese side hopes that the US can work with us to solve the problem through dialogue on an equal-footing. China’s basic stance remains unchanged, that is, we do not want a trade war, but are not afraid of one either. No matter how the situation develops, the Chinese side will always maintain the bottom line, and defend its legitimate rights and interests. It will never bow to the bullying of the US, never compromise on matters of principle, and never be forced into signing any treaty that is detrimental to the sovereign dignity of the country.
The Chinese side is firm and calm because we have the conditions, capability and confidence to tackle all kinds of risks and challenges. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. 70 years on, the mega ship of China has shattered economic blockades and all kinds of obstacles, forging ahead nonstop. Today, China has grown into the second largest economy in the world, relying increasingly on domestic consumption and demand for economic growth. China’s R&D investment ranks second in the world and, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people are united as one. A trade war cannot prevent China from sustained and high-quality economic growth, neither can it hold back the ever-deepening reform and opening-up of China. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, China will emerge stronger, more confident, open and vibrant, and stand rock-steady with a completely new image in the family of nations.
Recently, leaders of many East Asian countries have voiced their support for China’s development, opposition to unilateralism and protectionism, and expectations of regional cooperation. Especially Thailand, who, as the rotating president of ASEAN, has made important contributions to promoting free trade in the region and deepening ASEAN-China cooperation. The Chinese side applauds and supports that. We Chinese describe neighbors as lips and teeth closely related to each other, and we know the Thai people have a similar saying “Nam Pheung Reu, Seu Pheung Pa” or “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” We will open up further to Thailand and partners in the region, deepen Belt and Road and practical cooperation across the board, making East Asia, which we all call home, a more stable, prosperous and open community of an economic and shared future, so as to drive world economic growth and make new progress in building an open world economy.