Editor’s note: This is an edited translation from a commentary initially published on People’s Daily in Chinese on May 15.
China has been a nation of etiquette since ancient times. It adheres to the reciprocity of courtesy in contacts and takes strong measures only after courteous ones fail in bouts.
China has always maintained great restraint in the face of the Sino-U.S. economic and trade frictions, and has always been very sincere and careful in preparing for negotiations. Even after the U.S. exerted maximum pressure by raising tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese exports, China still sent a delegation to the country for the 11th round of high-level economic and trade consultations in a bid to maintain its sincerity in resolving the issue through negotiations till the very last minute.
In response to the U.S. move which directly led to the escalation of Sino-U.S. trade frictions, China had no choice but to levy additional tariffs on some imported goods from the U.S. However, China still hopes that the U.S. will return to the right track of bilateral trade talks, work together with China to continue to push forward negotiations on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
As a country of gentlemen, China has been upholding gentlemen’s doctrines. As some foreign dignitaries have pointed out, China always honors its commitments in the international community, which reflects the wisdom of the ancient Chinese civilization and China’s tremendous dedication as a responsible major power.
Over the past year, China’s sincerity and goodwill in pushing forward the negotiations were obvious. China values credibility and keeps its promises, which has never changed. Unfortunately, the U.S. has repeatedly upped the ante, backtracked several times, and was obsessed with putting maximum pressure on China, thinking that it could maximize its own interests through this kind of dishonest and outrageous bullying.
This is a total misjudgment of the situation and the target! The U.S. shall never bully China’s sincerity and never assume that China will compromise on major issues of principle, or that China will trade the core interests of the nation and the fundamental interests of the people.
The Chinese people are highly united in safeguarding national interests and dignity, with solid determination. Today’s China will never surrender its sovereign rights under humiliating terms. No one should expect China to put up with damaged core interests. Bullying and maximum pressure will do nothing but damage the credibility and image of the U.S.
Faced with the economic and trade frictions provoked by the U.S., China’s position has always been clear: there is no winner in the trade war; China is reluctant to fight, but it is not afraid to fight. The two economies are deeply integrated. The imposition of additional tariffs is detrimental to the Chinese people, the American people and the people of the world.
From the very beginning, China had a clear understanding of this and always consulted with the U.S. with the greatest sincerity, and forbearance. At the same time, China has also prejudged the worst result and made sufficient preparations. The Chinese people know from history that they must stick to the bottom line, prepare for the worst and strive for the best instead of taking chances to fight unprepared battles.
Over the past year, the whole country did a good job in terms of stabilizing employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign capital, investment and expectations. The positive results are unfolding. The economic fundamentals are stable and improving. We have enough confidence in the ability of China’s economy to handle pressure and resist risks, and we are not afraid of fighting a protracted trade war with America.
Sino-U.S. economic and trade cooperation is the best choice, but cooperation should be principled. On major issues of principle, China will not and cannot give in. China is always open to negotiations and believes that the two countries have broad common interests and space for economic and trade cooperation.
Both countries should seek common ground while reserving differences and pursue win-win cooperation. However, negotiations must be conducted in good faith and follow the principles of mutual respect and equality. The agreements between the two sides must be equal and mutually beneficial.
Only when the two sides decide to meet each other in the middle, seek common ground while reserving differences, assimilate similarities and resolve differences, and solve problems with a rational and pragmatic attitude, can Sino-U.S. economic and trade exchanges benefit the people of two countries and people of the world.