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US should correct its trade war mistakes: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-01-20 20:13
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Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, Jan 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

If all factors are taken into consideration, US President Joe Biden's implied questioning of China's sincerity in fulfilling its commitments under the two-year deal agreed between the two countries is totally unreasonable.

Despite the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, China has done all it can to increase its imports from the United States, open its market and improve its business environment.

After growing 8.3 percent year-on-year in 2020, Sino-US trade surged nearly 30 percent last year, hitting $755.6 billion, consolidating China's position as the US' largest trade partner, and the US China's third. That figure has even been suppressed by the exorbitant tariffs on Chinese imports the Biden administration inherited from its predecessor.

Given this backdrop, Biden's statement on Wednesday that it was too soon to make commitments on lifting US tariffs on Chinese goods, saying "I would like to be able to conditionally say that they are delivering on their promises, or are delivering on more of their promises, and can unwind some, but the time is not ripe", is particularly grating on the ear.

In the first place, it should be seen that the high inflation in the US has dramatically increased the prices of US exports of energy and goods, led by agricultural products. Moreover, the two US administrations' failed responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the generous consumption subsidies they have offered have reduced the output of manufactured goods in the country by reducing people's willingness to work. Worse, dozens of additional Chinese entities, including companies, institutes and individuals, have been blacklisted by the Biden administration since it took office on the basis of groundless national security concerns. Not to mention the great lengths the administration has gone to in its attempts to reshape the global supply chains and isolate China from the global market and technological sectors.

The self-contradictory nature of the US administration's trade policy and practices with China is mind-boggling. It requires China to buy more from the US, while sanctioning almost all major Chinese industrial and technological leading players, preventing them from doing business with the US and its allies, banning China from buying this or that, and keeping exorbitant tariffs on China's exports.

Ironically many of China's exports to the US are manufactured by US companies in China, and statistics show that about 90 percent of the punitive tariffs the US imposed on imports from China are actually paid by US consumers and companies in the form of inflated prices. In other words, the US tariffs directly increase its domestic inflation, which lowers the competitiveness of US exports in the world market.

It is high time the Biden administration conducted an audit of the US' gains and losses from its faithful implementation of its predecessor's trade policy with China. Lifting the tariffs would serve all parties' interests. It would by no means be a condescending favor the US administration would grant China, but an overdue correction of its own mistakes.

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