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The Chinese Embassy holds media briefing on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations

The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka held a media briefing on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations on 5th June. Ambassador Chen Xueyuan briefed the press about the major content of the white paper “China’s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations”, which was issued by the State Council Information Office of China on 2nd June.

Ambassador Cheng noted that the China-US commercial relationship serves as both the ballast and the propeller of the overall bilateral relationship. At stake are the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and the prosperity and stability of the world. In response to the economic and trade friction unilaterally initiated by the US since March 2018, China has had to take forceful measures to defend the interests of the nation and its people. At the same time, committed to resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation, China has engaged in multiple rounds of economic and trade consultations with the US in an effort to stabilize the bilateral commercial relationship. To provide a comprehensive picture of the China-US economic and trade consultations, and present China’s policy position on these consultations, the Chinese government issued the white paper.

Ambassador Cheng said that the white paper clearly shows how China-US trade friction provoked by the US damages the interests of both countries and of the wider world. The tariff measures the US imposed harm others and are of no benefit to itself. They have impeded two-way trade and investment cooperation and undermined market confidence and economic stability in the two countries and globally. The tariff measures have not “made America great again”, instead, they have significantly increased production costs for US companies, lead to domestic price hikes in the US, have an impact on US economic growth and people’s livelihood, and lead to barriers to US exports to China. US trade bullying harms the world, damages the multilateral trading system, seriously disrupts global industrial chains and supply chains, undermines market confidence, and poses a serious challenge to global economic recovery and a major threat to the trend of economic globalization. Global Economic Prospects released by the World Bank in January 2019 revised its forecast for global economic growth down further to 2.9 percent, citing continuous trade friction as a major downward risk. The IMF also marked down its projection of world economic growth for 2019 to 3.3 percent from the 2018 estimate of 3.6 percent in its World Economic Outlook report published in April 2019.

Ambassador Cheng noted that, the white paper provides a comprehensive picture of the backtracking of the U.S. on commitments in China-US trade consultations. In response to the economic and trade friction started by the US, China has been forced to take countermeasures, as bilateral trade and investment relations took a hit. Both sides deemed it necessary to come to the negotiating table to seek a solution through consultation. Since they were launched in February 2018, the economic and trade consultations have come a long way with the two sides agreeing on most parts of the deal. But the consultations have not been free of setbacks, each of them being the result of a US breach of consensus and commitments, and backtracking. The US government should bear the sole and entire responsibility for this severe setback to the China-US economic and trade consultations.

Ambassador Cheng pointed out that China is committed to credible consultations based on equality and mutual benefit. The Chinese government rejects the idea that threats of a trade war and continuous tariff hikes can ever help resolve trade and economic issues. Guided by a spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, the two countries should push forward consultations based on good faith in order to resolve issues through talks.

Ambassador Cheng emphasized that, during consultations, a country’s sovereignty and dignity must be respected, and any agreement reached by the two sides must be based on equality and mutual benefit. On major issues of principle, China will not back down.

Finally, Ambassador Cheng stressed that, striking a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement serves the interests of China and the US and meets the expectations of the world. It is hoped that the US can pull in the same direction with China and, in a spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, manage economic and trade differences, strengthen trade and economic cooperation, and jointly advance China-US relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability for the well-being of both nations and the world.

Ambassador Cheng also exchanged views with the scholars and journalists on related problems.

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