Survival of fittest game not sustainable: Senior Chinese official

Signs with the US and Chinese flags are seen outside a store selling foreign goods in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province, on Sept 19, 2018.
Signs with the US and Chinese flags are seen outside a store selling foreign goods in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province, on Sept 19, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

In a world facing increasing protectionism, a game of survival of the fittest where the strong wipe out the weak and a zero-sum game may prevail for a short while but will not become mainstream, a senior Chinese official said in a veiled reference to the escalating trade tensions between China and the United States.

Mr Shen Haixiong, vice-minister of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, warned yesterday that the world is "now at the crossroads" and must decide whether it will regress or embrace progress.

Without mentioning names, he said free trade, globalisation, open economies and the exchange of information and culture are now under attack as there are some who are adopting an increasingly protectionist stance.

Mr Shen, also president of the China Media Group, spoke at the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road China (Guangdong) International Communication Forum in Zhuhai city.

Beijing on Tuesday added US$60 billion (S$82 billion) of American products to its import tariff list in retaliation against President Donald Trump's planned levies on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Observers say the US wants to pressure China into making sweeping changes to its trade, technology transfer and high-tech industrial subsidy policies.

At the forum, organisers released a report on Guangdong province's role in China's mammoth Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

 

In the first six months of this year, Guangdong's total import and export volume with countries in the BRI hit almost 729 billion yuan (S$145.6 billion), up 1.7 per cent from a year ago. This accounted for 22.5 per cent of the provincial total.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Survival of fittest game not sustainable: Senior Chinese official'. Print Edition | Subscribe