Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the idea of an economic decoupling with China as “neither workable nor reasonable” in remarks Monday during a trip to Europe seeking to convince local governments to continue allowing Chinese investment there.
Wang appeared to be responding to President Donald Trump stating in an interview this weekend that he could see himself cutting economic ties to China entirely during his second term, given the harm trade with China has done to American manufacturing and its role in helping China expand espionage and cyber-crime in the country.
Following the admission of China into the World Trade Organization in 2001, despite its status as a repressive communist regime, most of the world’s largest companies expanded manufacturing in China, taking advantage of the cheap labor the regime offered. This year, a study found that at least 83 global corporations were profiting from not just cheap labor, but the enslavement of ethnic Uyghur people in Chinese factories, including American companies like Apple and Nike.
“In 2001, China was admitted to the World Trade Organization. Our leaders then argued that this decision would compel China to liberalize its economy and strengthen protections to provide things that were unacceptable to us and for private property and for the Rule of Law,” Trump told the United Nations during his General Assembly address last year. “Two decades later, this theory has been tested and proven completely wrong.”
Wang, visiting Hungary, attempted to make the case on Monday not that trade with China was favorable, but that it was the only option for the United States, as China would soon overtake it as the world’s largest economy.
“Decoupling is neither workable nor reasonable, Wang said, adding that it is doomed to fail as it disregards one’s own development needs and also harms the public interest,” the state propaganda outlet China Daily reported.
“Any attempt to decouple with China means decoupling with the world’s largest market in the future,” Wang asserted.
The foreign minister also lamented “unilateral hegemonic acts” meant to “sabotage” economic exchanges with third parties, apparently a reference to American diplomats — primarily Wang’s counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — warning European countries not to allow the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to help build 5G networks there. Huawei is compelled by Chinese law to cooperate with the People’s Liberation Army and the Communist Party, meaning it acts essentially as an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese company, as do all Chinese technology companies and mobile applications. Pompeo has argued that exposing civilians to Huawei jeopardizes both their privacy and the national security of their country.
On Tuesday — landing in his second destination, Italy — Wang raised the issue of a “cold war” between China and the United States, which many national security experts assert is already ongoing given the extensive theft of intellectual property, espionage, military buildup, and other rogue activity on Beijing’s part against America.
“China will never want a Cold War … because a Cold War would be a step backwards. We will not let other countries do this for their own private interests, while damaging the interests of other countries,” Reuters quoted Wang as saying.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Trump expressed dissatisfaction with the “phase one” trade deal that he signed with China in January, also likely prompting Wang’s remarks.
“There has been no country that has ripped us off more than China … We lose billions, hundreds of billions of dollars. We get nothing from China. Yes, we get some goods that we could produce ourselves … [but] we get nothing. All we do is lose money,” Trump complained. Asked if he could see himself cutting economic ties, he responded, “If they don’t treat us right, I would certainly do that.”
Trump similarly expressed little interest in expanding trade with China during an interview with Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle this month, stating that, after China’s failure to properly address the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, “the last thing I think about right now is phase two” of a trade deal.
“We made a great deal, on the phase one deal. The last thing I think about right now is phase two. It’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now, is a China phase two deal, after what they did to us on the China virus,” Trump asserted.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry — through spokesman Zhao Lijian, responsible for the conspiracy theory that the Chinese coronavirus originated in America — addressed Trump’s comments in that interview directly on Monday.
“China-U.S. cooperation is mutually-beneficial, not a one-way street. The expanding practical cooperation has brought tremendous benefits for the two countries and peoples. Some American politicians claim falsely that the U.S. has been ripped off by China and that China’s development is a gift from the U.S.,” Zhao told reporters. “In essence, they are driven by ideological bias to hype up the so-called China threat theory and the Cold War and zero-sum game mentality. Such backpedaling shows their disregard for facts and disrespect for history.”
“U.S. is entirely and solely responsible for the current difficulties in China-U.S. relations,” Zhao added.
Trump signed the “phase one” deal in January, which he claimed would not lower tariffs introduced on Chinese goods during his first term. The precise details in the deal remain out of the public eye, however.
Chinese state media outlets reported on Tuesday that Beijing officials held a phone call with American negotiators that day on how to properly abide by phase one of the deal, claiming that Chinese “experts” believe the phone call is a sign that America may be soon “loosening its curbs on Huawei,” which Trump has banned from doing business on U.S. soil.
Both sides called the talks on Tuesday “constructive” but offered little more detail.
“Analysts pointed out that this is by far the most positive communication between the two sides in recent weeks amid increasingly strained ties, with no blaming rhetoric used in each side’s announcements,” the Chinese state-run Global Times propaganda outlet claimed.