China blames US for trade dispute, ‘unacceptable demands’
BEIJING — China issued a report Sunday blaming the United States for a trade dispute and said it won’t back down on “major issues of principle,” but offered no clarification about what additional steps it will take to up the ante.
The statement from the Cabinet spokesman’s office said that China has kept its word throughout 11 rounds of talks and will honor its commitments if a trade agreement is reached. It accused the U.S. of backtracking three times over the course of the talks by introducing new tariffs and other conditions beyond what was agreed on.
“But the more the U.S. government is offered, the more it wants,” it said, accusing America’s negotiators of “resorting to intimidation and coercion.”
“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,” it said.
The U.S. has accused China of stealing trade secrets and forced technology transfers. The Trump administration has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is planning to tax the $300 billion in imports that have so far been spared. It also escalated the stakes this month by putting the Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. companies from supplying it with computer chips, software and other components without government approval.
Beijing responded by imposing tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products, which went into effect Saturday. It also retaliated against the U.S. blacklisting of Huawei by announcing Friday that it will establish its own list of “unreliable entities” consisting of foreign businesses, corporations and individuals.
Wang Shouwen, vice commerce minister and deputy international trade representative, said China would issue more detailed information on the unreliable entities list soon, but said it was aimed at enterprises that “violated market principles” and cut supplies of components to Chinese businesses for non-commercial reasons.
Such actions affected China’s national security and the public interest, he said.
“So for these practices, those enterprises will be included in our list of unreliable entities,” Wang said, adding that the significance of the list should not be “over-interpreted.”
China’s statement that it intends to publish such a list follows additional measures last week that deepened the bite of U.S. sanctions imposed on Chinese electronics giant Huawei in mid-May.
Several leading U.S.-based global technology standards-setting groups announced restrictions on Huawei’s participation in their activities under the U.S. Commerce Department rules, which bar the sale and transfer of U.S. technology to Huawei without government approval.
Wang also repeated suggestions that China could restrict the export of exotic minerals known as rare earths that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones. Foremost among them is lithium, the main component in modern batteries.
The threat to use China’s rich supply of rare earths as leverage in the conflict has contributed to sharp losses in U.S. stocks and sliding long-term bond yields.
“If some countries use China’s rare earth metals to produce products to contain China’s development, this is unacceptable by standards of both minds and hearts,” Wang said.
Being published in eight languages, Sunday’s report lays out China’s argument for blaming Washington for the frictions as well as the costs to both sides.
“Whatever the future might bring, China is confident of meeting challenges head on, turning risks into opportunities and opening new chapters,” it said. “China remains committed to its own cause no matter how the external environment changes.”
“We still have sufficient room for fiscal and monetary policy maneuver” to maintain health of the Chinese economy amid frictions, it said.
Wang said China had been forced to “take forceful measures in response” to U.S. actions and denied China had backtracked on its earlier commitments.
“It is irresponsible of the U.S. to accuse and smear China,” Wang said.
In negotiations “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” Wang said. He said the U.S. had made unacceptable demands, including on tariffs and compulsory requirements that infringed on Chinese sovereignty.
He said of the U.S. tactics: “You give them an inch, they take a yard.”
President Donald Trump has touted the tariff increases as a way of reducing China’s trade surplus with the U.S., which hit a staggering $379 billion last year. However, Wang questioned how much China was actually benefiting from its surplus, saying a joint Chinese-U.S. study showed the U.S. figure could be inflated by as much as 20%.
He also said many of those exports were produced by foreign companies operating in China and that Chinese firms often pocketed only a relatively meager fee for assembling. Subtracting the U.S. surplus in the services trade with China, the actual surplus came to just $152.6 billion last year, Wang said.
The U.S. deficit with China has actually been worsening since tariffs were first imposed, Wang said, pointing to a 50% decline in soy bean exports to China and a drop-off in U.S. auto sales in the country. The average U.S. family, meanwhile, will pay an additional $831 for consumer items over the year due to the higher tariffs, he said, while the dispute’s impact on businesses could end up costing 2.23 million U.S. jobs overall.
“That shows that the deepening trade restrictions hurt U.S. workers,” Wang said.