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May 22, 2019

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Risks of US bullying behavior in eyes of Washington’s allies

Wielding a big stick of punitive tariffs, the US administration of President Donald Trump is leaving no stone unturned to mislead its European allies into believing that China is to blame for the ongoing trade tensions.

But to many European leaders and scholars, Washington is waging a new round of its bullying campaign to defend its “America First” policy at the expense of others, including its European allies.

“The war waged by the United States has made America lose not only money, but also the confidence of its allies and Western countries,” Mechthild Leutner, a professor with the Institute of East Asian Studies at the Free University of Berlin, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The US policy, “especially during the Trump administration, has made it a country that everyone knows only cares about itself,” added Leutner.

The commonly recognized selfishness of US policy would be dangerous and poisonous to Washington, warned Joseph S. Nye Jr, a renowned professor at Harvard University, in a column published early May.

“Reputation has always mattered in world politics, but credibility has become an even more important power resource,” he said.

In Leutner’s eyes, “European allies right now are somehow caught in the middle of the conflict between the United States and China.”

“They used to have trust in America but the reality they are facing now is to cautiously side with China, who has held the free trade, globalism flag,” he said.

In an interview with German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung last Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly called the United States a “global adversary” instead of an ally who used to offer an “American umbrella” to Europe. For Stefano Silvestri, a former Italian undersecretary of state for defense, trans-Atlantic relations have reached a historic low recently, as the United States keeps accusing European Union countries, especially Germany, of creating a huge US trade deficit.

“Chancellor Merkel is strongly protecting a multilateral system that President Trump despises. The US president is convinced that if he is able to dominate Germany, he will be able to dominate the whole Europe,” Silvestri told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.

‘Confrontation course’

For the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the ongoing trade row initiated by Washington is putting the global economy at “massive risk,” and the “confrontation course” would endanger the world economy.

The trade tensions, said BDI Director General Joachim Lang in a recent press release, would “directly affect” European companies with production facilities in the United States and China.

The EU also has its own fight with the United States. In mid-February, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on cars imported from the EU if a trade deal could not be reached between the two sides.

On Saturday, Trump declared that some imported vehicles and auto parts pose a national security threat, but he delayed a decision on tariffs to allow for more time for trade talks with the EU and Japan.

“An escalation would affect US consumers and the US economy as well as the economies of the United States’ closest allies,” said Lang, whose country would be particularly hit by the auto tariffs.

Talking about the US pressure on Europe about its 5G construction, Markus Taube, a professor of East Asian Economic Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said that the German industry is very pragmatic and believes in proof or facts.

So far there is no evidence that Chinese company Huawei would spy on its users, said Taube. “The dust will settle and people will see the truth.”

“Normally when there is a conflict you should respect the mechanism of the World Trade Organization,” Bernard Dewit, chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, told Xinhua on Friday.

“So we are a little bit afraid of the new policy of the United States, which is a unilateral policy,” added Dewit.

The US trade bullying has also raised concern on the other side of the English Channel.

“For the first time in decades, the system of free, fair, rules-based international trade which underpins our global prosperity is under attack,” said British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox in a keynote speech at The Global Trade Review 2019 Conference on May 8.


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