China rejects US criticism of White Paper

BEIJING/WASHINGTON • China has rejected US criticism that a Chinese White Paper misrepresented trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies, saying the United States should stop making a laughing stock of itself.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing yesterday that every setback in the trade talks was caused by the US breaking consensus. "Accusing China of back-pedalling is distorting facts and shifting blame to the innocent," he said.

On Monday, the Trump administration expressed disappointment that China blames the US for the failure of trade talks between the two countries.

"It is important to note that the impetus for the discussions was China's long history of unfair trade practices," the US Treasury Department and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a joint statement.

"Our negotiating positions have been consistent throughout these talks, and China back-pedalled on important elements of what the parties had agreed to."

The US is disappointed that the Chinese have used the White Paper and recent public statements to "pursue a blame game misrepresenting the nature and history of trade negotiations between the two countries", the joint statement continued.

The White Paper released by China over the weekend asserted that US President Donald Trump's decision to raise tariffs on US$200 billion (S$274 billion) of Chinese goods on May 10 was a breach of an agreement reached by Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

 

"These acts contradicted the agreement reached by the two presidents to ease friction through consultation - and the expectations of people around the world - casting a shadow over the bilateral economic and trade consultations and world economic growth," said the authors of the White Paper.

"The US has backtracked on its commitments in the China-US economic and trade consultations, not the other way around," the document said, adding that China does not want a trade war but would not shy away from one.

The US joint statement on Monday said: "President Trump is committed to taking action to address the unfair trade practices that China has engaged in for decades, which have contributed to persistent and unsustainable trade deficits, almost US$420 billion last year, and have caused severe harm to American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses."

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will attend the Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers' summit in Fukuoka, Japan, that begins on Friday, with Chinese officials also expected to attend.

If he meets the Chinese, it would be the first face-to-face talks after the two sides reached a stand-off in two-year negotiations over trade last month. Mr Trump and Mr Xi may meet at the main G-20 summit in Japan later this month.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2019, with the headline 'China rejects US criticism of White Paper'. Print Edition | Subscribe