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'Sweetener' strategy on trade dispute set to fail

By HAN BAOYI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-14 09:28
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The US-China trade tension is a cover for a strategic competition between the two countries, but what the United States is doing now is very shortsighted and is "bound to fail", according to the president of the Royal Institute of East-West Strategic Studies in Oxford, England.

"The US-China trade tension or difficulty is a cover-up for a much deeper tension which is a strategic competition in terms of technology, natural resources, and even social systems between the two countries," said Jean Christophe Iseux, a former European diplomat.

"What the US is doing now is pure protectionism. It seems that their domestic companies can benefit from it, but it's a very short-term thing and the problem will become big within two or three years," he said. "It's just a sweetener and as a consequence, this strategy is bound to fail. The American public will realize it."

Iseux stressed that the protectionism and anti-globalism the United States adopted are not in line with the nature of business.

"Ninety percent of the international business community needs multilateral system. They need a global village where they can trade with other nations, otherwise they won't survive," he said.

"Everything nowadays is linked to the competitive advantage one country has got against another, one region has got against another, and one industry has got against another. This is how business works now," he said.

Iseux highly praised China's efforts on "reviving the flame of multilateral order". He said the Belt and Road Initiative and the white paper China released on the trade talks with the US reiterated China's position to provide a "win-win situation and a true international partnership".

"I must say the white paper is extremely good. It shows China has been trying to do its best to promote a positive outcome or solution to deal with the tension, but the trade tension as I said, is just the tip of the iceberg and the real problem is much deeper."

In terms of the so-called China threat, Iseux said the world should bear in mind that China is still a developing country.

"The moderately prosperous society has not been built completely. Although China's GDP looks quite high, there is a long way before China can succeed to have a very competitive GDP per capita," he said.

"There are 1 billion and 300 million people in the country, of which China needs to remind the rest of the world. Obviously, the foreigners go to Beijing and Shanghai and they think they see modernity everywhere and think that entire China is like that. It's not true," he added.

Iseux came to China the first time in 1997 as a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He traveled all around China and did case studies of state-owned enterprise reform and issues relating to agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents in China. These issues became top priorities of China's reform and opening-up policy.

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