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Editor's note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs" that was first published on China Plus on May 10.
The United States raised tariffs on Chinese imports worth 200 billion U.S. dollars from 10 to 25 percent when the clock ticked past midnight in Washington D.C. on Friday. Two minutes later, China issued a statement announcing its intention to respond with countermeasures.
It is a shame that the trade conflict between China and the United States has escalated. The United States has chosen to ignore China's sincere attitude and actions, and is instead holding fast to its “America first” mentality, making unreasonable demands and continuing to apply extreme pressure on China during the negotiations. The United States has violated the rules of equality, mutual respect, and shared benefits, which has resulted in a worsening of the conflict.
It takes two to negotiate. China has been fully willing to make its best efforts to resolve this conflict. That requires the United States to do its part as well. After more than a year of negotiations, China has come to understand the American way of doing things. And the United States should have by now developed a good understanding of China's principles and its stance, namely that it doesn't want to fight a trade war but won't shy away from one if it is necessary. China is willing to resolve trade issues through cooperation, but its core interests and the fundamental interests of its people must be protected.
The United States has repeatedly increased its tariffs after announcing it was just about to reach an agreement with China, and has violated its international responsibilities within the World Trade Organization. By doing so, it has damaged the interests of both China and the United States, and the broader international trading system. In this, it has faced strong global opposition, including from voices inside the United States.
Thomas J. Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has stated that he does not support starting a trade war by increasing tariffs, because “tariffs are taxes paid by American families and American businesses – not by foreigners.” And Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a lobby group that represents over 150 American trade committees, has released a statement saying that increasing tariffs will hurt nearly one million jobs across the United States, and that it “will only punish U.S farmers, businesses and consumers”.
Efforts by the United States to stop China on its path of development by raising tariffs won't work. Over the past year, China has handled trade issues and its economy appropriately, and the confidence of the Chinese people has grown stronger under the pressure. And now that there are more positive signs in the economy that favor China, it will face the trade conflict with even more composure, confidence, and capability. China will keep doing its own business well, pushing for high-quality economic development with more reforms and opening up, and continue to offer the world more opportunities for growth.