Chinese state media outlets have already reacted with outrage against the reported content of President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy (NSS), even before the president unveils the new blueprint for his administration in a speech Monday.
Both the state outlets Global Times and People’s Daily published articles decrying any language identifying China as an economic aggressor on the world stage as “unbelievable” and “a big joke.” According to a senior administration official speaking to reporters in Washington on Sunday, the NSS will identify China as a “strategic competitor” to America.
The People’s Daily published a story criticizing this expected move as a “big joke” on Monday. “In the U.S. government, some people are constantly sounding the ‘China threat’ alarm, but both countries benefit from the trade relationship,” the article argues. “Issues in the China-U.S. trade relationship do exist, but Chinese side has called for solving those issues through negotiation and consultation.”
The piece goes on to quote Chinese expert Song Guoyou as stating, “No country in the world is aggressive against the United States.”
“If you follow the U.S. standard in this report, then the United States is an aggressor against all countries in the world,” Song claims.
The Global Times called the expected identification of China as an economic aggressor “unbelievable,” despite Trump’s consistent protests that China manipulates its currency, conducts large-scale intellectual property theft, and otherwise cheats in global trade competition.
“China and the U.S. have conducted trade in compliance with WTO rules. China has allowed no gray customs clearance with imports to the U.S., nor did the U.S. build controversial wholesale centers of Chinese commodities,” the Times protests. “Washington is using its massive comprehensive strength to recklessly define the behavior of and relations with other countries.”
The piece goes on to call America “the biggest saboteur of international rules and challenger of free trade.”
“Washington’s attempts to adjust international trade in favor of U.S. interests have triggered complaints everywhere,” the Times protests. “It’s hegemonic for the U.S. to accuse any country of economical aggression since no country is able to do so. Because the U.S. dollar remains in an unchallengeable position, the U.S. can pressure trade surplus countries to buy U.S. treasury bonds and often punish trading partners with its domestic laws. ”
The column also threatens “countermeasures from China” if Beijing is sufficiently displeased with Washington’s clarity in identifying Communist Party policies as a threat, which it identifies as an attempt to “extort” China.
As is typical in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a much more diplomatic statement than what was published in the state media arms. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying caveated her statement that “we have not seen this report yet,” but asserted that China hopes the NSS can “play a constructive role in promoting world peace and stability and make contributions to enhancing China-U.S. strategic mutual trust and jointly upholding international peace and security on the part of China and the United States.”
Hua added that, regardless of what is in that strategy, China “will continue implementing the high-level trade and investment liberalization and facilitation policy” and seek “strategic mutual trust” between the two countries.
The language in this year’s NSS is expected to differ significantly from its predecessors. While President Barack Obama’s 2015 NSS mentioned China positively, expressing hope for “the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China,” President Trump’s document is expected to identify the communist country as a “strategic competitor.” According to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on Sunday, the NSS will highlight “the serious intellectual property theft that’s going on by the Chinese” as well as military expansionism occurring illegally in the South China Sea.
A report published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that China has invested heavily in developing military facilities in the South China Sea, particularly on artificial islands illegally constructed in the Paracel and Spratly island chains. Chinese officials insist on being sovereign over the entire South China Sea, a claim barred by international law.