The escalating trade dispute initiated by the Trump administration is not meant to address the trade imbalance between China and the United States, but to curb China's technological market expansion, experts said on Sunday.
As China upgrades its manufacturing base through the Made in China 2025 plan, the U.S., the world's only superpower, cannot accept this and sees China's fast development as a threat to its global dominance, said Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a government think tank.
"Therefore, it is inevitable for the U.S. to adopt unilateral and protectionist practices to stem China's growth," he said.
The U.S. government's distrust of China can be found in its National Security Strategy report issued in December, which mentioned China 33 times and defined China as its "competitor". The Trump administration claimed that China attempted to challenge the U.S. status and poses a threat to U.S. prosperity and security.
"The U.S. has focused more on the service sector and spent over .5 trillion in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 17 years. It didn't pay much attention to upgrading its manufacturing sectors, urbanization and infrastructure," said Tu Xinquan, director of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
China, in the meantime, made notable breakthroughs in developing technologies such as 5G, computer chips, nuclear power, high-speed trains, high-end vessels and aircraft manufacturing.
It also deployed more resources to promote the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to build a trade, investment and infrastructure network connecting Asia with more regions in the world.
Tu said taking into account its domestic political and economic pressure, the U.S. government has a motive to deliberately propose tariffs on Chinese imports. The so-called Section 301 investigation launched in August into alleged Chinese intellectual property and technology transfer practices essentially targets several key industries identified by the Made in China 2025 plan.
On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump raised some hope in the trade dispute, tweeting, "President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!"