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May 22, 2019

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‘Big stick’ stains American credibility

Modern international trade relations are based on credibility and the spirit of the contract. However, in the year-long China-US trade negotiations, Washington repeatedly reneged on its promises and played “face changing” tricks, leaving stark stains on its credibility.

During Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s visit to Washington last May, Beijing and Washington agreed not to engage in a trade war. Only days later, the Trump administration said it will impose a 25-percent tariff on US$50 billion worth of Chinese imports which contain industrially significant technology.

Soon after the recent setbacks in China-US trade consultations, the Trump administration, in the name of “national security,” rolled out measures to hit Chinese tech firms. The White House’s executive order will kill many business contracts between Chinese and US firms. The US side is perhaps narcissistic about its “art of the deal,” yet its tainted record in failing to keep its own words have alarmed the world. As a matter of fact, China is not the first victim of America’s acts of bad faith and trade bullying.

‘The logic of gangsters’

Over more than a year, the US side has wielded a “big stick” of protectionism, and coerced many of its trade partners, including South Korea, Canada and Mexico, into re-negotiating their long-existing trade agreements.

This bullying behavior has sent a clear signal: One can arbitrarily tamper with original contracts regardless of cooperation partners’ interests and concerns, as long as it has the power to do so. That is “the logic of gangsters” and “the law of jungle.” Such bullying has stirred global opposition, including from Washington’s allies in Europe.

When Washington decided to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union last year, the European Commission rebutted in a tweet, saying that “The EU believes these unilateral US tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple.”

Also, America’s bullying actions have gone far beyond multilateral economic and trade realms.

Since the Trump administration took power, Washington has backed away from a string of major international agreements and multilateral bodies, including the Paris climate accord, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Universal Postal Union.


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