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How China, US misunderstand each other [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2018-8-5 09:35:29 |Display all floors
(Global Times) As the China-US trade conflict escalates, there has been confusion in markets and media. There are different terms including trade dispute, trade war, economic war and soft war to describe the ongoing bilateral row, indicating that China and the US have differences in understanding, which may influence China-US relations and global order.

The two countries have misunderstandings about some important issues.

China and the US misread the international order. It is admitted by international rules and most people in the world that the world is based on sovereign states. The West used to believe that concepts like democracy, liberty and human rights are superior to the sovereign states, but their claim failed to change the essence of the sovereign state system.

The European Union was expected to eliminate differences among countries, but its function is now under scrutiny. Even the US, which used to advocate liberalism and internationalism, focuses on sovereignty and its own interests now. Countries represented by China overestimated the influence of economic cooperation.

Some Chinese people believe that economic cooperation can surpass the boundary of sovereign states and help states resolve disputes caused by competition. Consequently, China used to stress global governance and proposed the Belt and Road initiative, trying to expand the interdependence between countries into the interdependence between regions and contribute to world peace and stability.

But China has found out that economic cooperation can't fundamentally resolve the conflicts between countries and that the sovereign state system is still the underlying basis of relations. In this context, people instinctively oppose hegemony especially when the world is at peace. It is not good news for the US, but nonetheless has helped China's rise.

However, if China tries to seek a leadership role, it will meet opposition too. In other words, people are not against the US, but hegemony and foreign control. Any country that wants to replace the US will be opposed by the international community.

China and the US have misunderstandings in the trend of human society's development. Some people misread globalization. Integration and fragmentation have alternated in human society. The wave of globalization swept over after the end of the Cold War when barriers disappeared and countries were connected faster than ever. It was once unimaginable that the living condition of American farmers had something to do with that of Chinese farmers.

The changes took place so fast that many governments couldn't adapt, causing serious problems in many countries including China and the US. In such a context, it was reasonable for populism and protectionism to rise. They halted the progress of globalization and also provided a chance for the world to adjust. It would be easier to understand many problems if we think in this way, including the rise of Donald Trump.

Some people, especially American people, have blind faith in hegemony and believe that the US hegemony is reasonable and should be defended. However, it's quite common for major powers in history to experience vicissitudes, and China is one of them.

As the US has been through founding, development, rise and hegemony, it's natural for it to be on the decline. Besides, the harder a hegemonic country defends its leading role, the faster it declines. That has been proved many times in the past century.

For example, the German empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman empire and the Russia empire during World War I, the empire of Japan, Nazi Germany and fascist Italy during World War II, the colonial empires represented by France and Britain after World War II and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The US kept a low profile before World War II, and China was oppressed for a long time. However, these two countries survived and developed.

China and the US also have misunderstandings about China's reform trends. Some people in the US believe that although the Chinese economy has integrated into the international community, China's political reform is lagging behind and even shows signs of slipping backwards. However, politics and economics are always an organic whole, and economic reform is the most important part of political reform no matter whether it is Marxist or Western capitalist.

Another misunderstanding is that some Chinese people and pro-China foreigners believe that China has created a new "Beijing consensus" parallel with or even opposed to the Washington consensus. However, China's development in past decades was based on Marxism, Western capitalism and traditional Chinese culture.

Marxism originated from the Soviet Union and legalizes the Chinese political system today. Western capitalism is also called market economics in China and China learned it from the West, especially from the US. Traditional Chinese culture is represented by Confucianism and stresses family. In other words, the market economy, the core of the Washington consensus, is also core of the "China model."

More importantly, the "Beijing consensus" doesn't have universal values even if they really exist, as other countries don't satisfy the three above-mentioned concepts. The term "socialism with Chinese characteristics" indicates that the China model can only apply to China.

The main problem between China and the US is not merely a trade war, but a complex mixture of politics, economics and strategy. Some US complaints about China are somewhat reasonable, but the US countermeasures are hegemonic and unacceptable.

China should acknowledge that it is the second-largest economy in the world and thus accept a higher standard of trade rules so that the US and the international community can get along with it better. The US should also change its mind and treat its relations with China and the world more rationally.

If a large conflict breaks out in trade or any other area, China and the US will both suffer the consequences, and that's not what the two countries' leaders and people want to see.

The author is a professor at the Center for American Studies, Fudan University. [url=mailtopinion@globaltimes.com.cn]opinion@globaltimes.com.cn[/url]

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Post time 2018-8-5 12:00:26 |Display all floors
This post was edited by pnp at 2018-8-6 10:57

Yes, a lot of misunderstandings between the two, but it is not all China's fault when the US refuse to listen!  Trump goes on the rampage, applying more tariffs even after their senior officials met in Beijing and agreed not to impose tariffs but to discuss and resolve their trade issues!  As soon as the US officials returned  to the US, more tarriffs were imposed; how can the two parties talk to each other when one party has high-handed attitude, using tariffs to force concessions from the other!

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Post time 2018-8-5 12:03:50 |Display all floors
How can China and the US understand each other when one party uses bullying tactics to bulldoze its way through, as Trump is prone to doing?

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Post time 2018-8-5 15:59:27 |Display all floors
Good article.

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Post time 2018-8-5 21:15:27 |Display all floors
huaqiao Post time: 2018-8-5 15:59
Good article.

Alas, two years too late.

The price gap is the pivot. If China goods remain price-attractive to US customers despite the US government tariffs, then the US government will only make the imported goods more costly to their own citizens by collecting the tariffs and putting them into the US treasury so that the tariffs are therefore an indirect US tax on US citizens themselves which will in turn nullify the tax reduction given by Trump earlier this year.

Such an indirect tax are an unnecessary additional burden onto millions of the poorer US citizens who regularly buy goods from China and other emerging markets, and they are the same citizens whose jobs in related industries including import service support will be threatened more in the near future despite the vastly smaller increases in US manufacturing deployment such as for steel as outcome from erecting tariff barriers to these imports.

The pivot will nevertheless depend on a host of other factors such as currency exchange rate and raw material input costs. Dampening the China market will lower the renminbi which will lower the prices of China's export goods while raising China's cost to import raw materials and commodities purchased in US dollars at the higher exchange rate.

One must also add the important fact - it is not so easy to replace China as part of the global supply chains. After all, the US labor rates are at least eight times that of China's and it would take at least three years at the least to relocate supply chains installed at any place on this planet.

Furthermore, China as a new market of significant size and importance needs no further elaboration. One just need to remember what the BMW China marketing director had once said years back, "The China market is a totally different planet!" So too companies like LVMH which find in the Chinese the most discriminating high-end mass buyer of luxury goods.

Given the indisputable fact that all these past years China has been a global economic engine pulling up most of the rest of the world when the US economy was sundered by its subprime crisis, the ill-informed and scurrilous US-triggered trade intervention will have long-lasting negative effects not just on other emerging economies but also advanced economies like commodity-exporting Australia which should by now be realizing that economics comes before politics so that the US attempt at neutralizing China's USD8,000 million OBOR with a USD113 million fund to recruit Japan and Australia under its new Indo-Pacific Initiative will be just another US spanner in the Asian gearbox; clearly the US as hegemon has no interest in helping the poor up along the OBOR route, and that should not be lost on India as well.  By now, Australia should be more worried its mining, banking and real-estate investments and therefore jobs are going to default if China buys less.

The US has been the first country to level a gun at the head of another by saying, "buy more from me and sell less to me but don't complain about both to anyone." This has been seen by all around the globe and they would be concluding by now if it could happen to another country, it could happen to them too. China would like to buy more from anywhere of things it does not make but the US not only would not sell to China things it wants but also disdain to allow China to invest its capital in industries which can help raise US employment and productivity and to increase US investments in innovation.

What the US has also failed to do is to see how it can synergise its industries with China2025 and thereby mutually build a globally significant innovation engine that can spur new 21st century applications for everyone. Moreover such cooperative effort based on a long-term common vision can replace the mistrust and misunderstanding used as the excuse to exercise the thucydides trap that everyone else has concluded the US is laying on China. The US is just trying to block and stop China's rise. Which country in history can tell another sovereign state that it cannot be allowed to go ahead with its own development plan? Neither Japan nor China didn't tell the US it should slow down on the US' own science and technology blueprint crafted some years back that had targeted Japan's rise so why should in the excuse of denying it had omitted to upgrade its industries and education standards the US should lay the blame on countries like China and Japan for that matter the EC?

Except Britain. It should not be lost on the German business and industrial groups currently in China that Britain had laid a thucydides trap on Germany at the start of the last century. A hundred years later history seems to be repeating itself with what the US is trying to do.

China is facing an irrational set of US policies that aims at it as target practice. Tomorrow it will be Germany, another day another country in the merry-go-round of bilateral arrangements that are but a blunt instrument in a geo-economically interconnected and trans-dependent trading world. The free market that was sold down the throats of emerging markets by the great salesman is now withdrawn by the same salesman and fast becoming an isolationist nightmare for tradesmen, industrialists, investors, bankers, insurers, stockbrokers and shippers across the globe, not to forget hundreds of millions depending on work to upkeep their families.

But what cannot be solved should be ignored. As Voltaire had said, we should tend to our own gardens instead. China has much fortitude. It has faced greater challenges before. Isn't it true that the lean and lithe man can develop his muscles stronger and faster? So China can turn inwards and become leaner and more lithe, develop the right set of policies to engage its massive household savings to build up and modernize its domestic industries satellited around its corporations acting as internationally-connected but locally innovative developers of this new century's greatest products and services. It just needs two things: beyond technology and technique - semiconductor fabrication and advanced materials. The rest of the universe of things and ideas are just byway details.

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Post time 2018-8-6 06:12:00 |Display all floors
Yes. Very reasonable. The current Globalism is failing because it favors the owners of capital but neglects the workers and the consumers. The European Union is failing for that same neglect of workers and consumers. I'm neither a Marxist or a socialist. I favor a Globalism that limits the ability of sovereign states to make war. A mixture of social democracy and capitalism that provides for the average person.
My problem is simple: I just know better than everyone-else!

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Post time 2018-8-6 06:41:50 |Display all floors
It's not misunderstand each other, it's one idiot who say this today and say something else tomorrow.
Human lives mean little when those in the WEST see a bigger gain through war

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