What is China's 'red line' on China-U.S. trade friction?

Updated 2018-04-08 11:16:20

"This (the announcement) is really saying there is really no retreat; that there is no way we [Chinese] are going to be bullied into the negotiating room and then be flogged by Donald Trump over issues that can be resolved through negotiations, but not through threats," said Einar Tangen, a current affairs commentator, when talking about the messages being sent out by the press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Friday.

He thought the strong wording reflected China's red line on China-U.S. trade friction that it would sit down to talk only if the U.S. withdrew its unilateral threats.

"This is not China versus the United States. This is China and the rest of the world, the existing international order versus an individual who doesn't believe in it," said Tangen. "He doesn't believe anything except being a playground bully asking everyone for their lunch money."

In contrast with some U.S. officials who have hinted that the two sides are in talks, Gao Feng, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said there have been no talks over economic and trade issues between Chinese and U.S. economic officials recently. He said that it was impossible for the two sides to engage in any negotiations under current conditions when U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced tariffs on yet another 100 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese imports.

"It's very concerning to me," John Gong, a professor of economics at the University of International Business and Economics said. "The Washington side needs to really read into what's behind these lines."

Gao Feng said the U.S. side adopted extremely bad actions in 'lifting a stone, and hitting its own feet' and the Chinese side is fully prepared and will not hesitate to fight back immediately with all options possible.

"It implies a message here that probably includes options going beyond just economic options," said Gong. "We can talk about the political side, and the security side. Other things are on the table as well. For example, foreign exchange can be leveraged off as can China's holdings of U.S. treasury bonds, bills. And also keep in mind that corporate America's operation in China amounts to between 300 billion U.S. dollars and 500 billion U.S. dollars."

"So at the end of the day, this is something that can be targeted too, which is something which nobody wants to do," concluded Gong.

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