On Sunday, China released a comprehensive white paper to formalize its positions on trade negotiations with the U.S. The set of statements come as the trade war escalates and Beijing threatens to hit back with a retaliatory blacklist of U.S. firms. Here are some key takeaways from the press conference announcing the white paper:
U.S. ‘responsible’ for stalled trade talks
The “U.S. government bears responsibility” for setbacks in trade talks, chided the paper, adding that the U.S. has imposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods that impede economic cooperation between the two countries and globally.
While it’s “common” for both sides to propose “adjustments to the text and language” in ongoing negotiations, the U.S. administration “kept changing its demands” in the “previous more than ten rounds of negotiations,” the paper alleged.
On the other hand, reports of China backtracking on previous trade deals are mere “mudslinging,” Wang Shouwen, the Chinese vice minister of commerce and deputy China international trade representative, said as he led the Sunday presser.
China ready to fight if forced to
China does not want a trade war with the U.S, but it’s not afraid of one and will fight one if necessary, said the white paper.
Beijing’s position on trade talks has never changed — that cooperation serves the interests of both countries and conflict can only hurt both — according to the paper. CNBC’s Eunice Yoon pointed out that Beijing’s latest stance repeats previous statements made back in September.
Deals must be equal
Difference and frictions remain on the economic and trade fronts between the two countries, but China is willing to work with the U.S. to reach a “mutually beneficial and win-win agreement,” stated the paper. However, cooperation has to be based on principles and must not compromise China’s core interests.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” Wang said.
He said one needs not “overinterpret” China’s soon-to-come entity list, adding that it mainly targets foreign companies that run against market rules and violate the spirit of contracts, cut off supplies to Chinese firms for uncommercial reasons, damage the legitimate rights of Chinese companies, or threaten China’s national security and public interests.
China respects IP rights
The paper also touched on issues that are at the center of the prolonged U.S.-China trade dispute, including China’s dealings with intellectual property rights. U.S. allegations of China over IP theft are “an unfounded fabrication,” said the white paper, adding that China has made great efforts in recent years to protect and enforce IP rights.
Wang claimed that China pays the U.S. a significant sum to license IP rights every year. Of the $35.6 billion it shelled out for IP fees in 2018, nearly a quarter went to the U.S.
Investments are mutually beneficial
The white paper claimed that bilateral investments between the two countries are mutually beneficial rather than undermining for U.S. interests when taken account of “trade in goods and services as well as two-way investment.”
The Chinese government also pushed back at claims that it exerts influence on businesses’ overseas investments.
“The government is not involved in companies’ business activities and does not ask them to make specific investments or acquisitions,” said Wang. “Even if we make such requests, companies won’t obey.”
In response to China’s probe into FedEx over Huawei packages that went stray, Wang assured that “foreign businesses are welcome to operate legally in China, but when they break rules, they have to cooperate with regulatory investigations. That’s indisputable.”
The Shenzhen-based smartphone and telecom giant has been hit hard by during the trade negotiations as the Trump administration orders U.S. businesses to sever ties with the Chinese firm.