Scores of Asia specialists, including former US diplomats and military officers, have called on US President Donald Trump to reconsider policies that “treat China as an enemy.”
In a draft open letter, cited by Reuters news agency, they warned that the belligerent approach could hurt US interests as well as the global economy.
“Although we are very deeply troubled by Beijing’s recent behavior, we also believe that many US actions are contributing to the downward spiral in relations,” said the letter to Trump and Congress signed by some 80 experts.
“US efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage America’s international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations,” it said.
“The US fear that Beijing will replace the US as the global leader is exaggerated,” the letter added.
China has been called in Trump’s 2018 US National Security Strategy a strategic competitor aiming to replace the United States as the pre-eminent global power.
The draft letter, whose final version is yet to be released, also said Washington should work with allies and partners “to create a more open and prosperous world in which China is offered the opportunity to participate.”
Many economists, once optimistic about a US-China trade deal, now lean towards skepticism one will ever happen soon. Some are even saying the world’s two biggest economies are heading into an economic cold war that could last years.
Bumpy road ahead
Chinese state media warned that Beijing and Washington will face a long road and probably more fights before they can reach a deal to end their protracted trade war.
The warning came as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump held ice-breaking talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka and agreed to a trade war ceasefire as well as a return to bilateral negotiations on resolving tariffs disputes.
The official China Daily, a leading English-language paper in China, expressed alarm later in the day that while there was a greater likelihood of reaching an agreement between the world’s two largest economies, there was no guarantee to secure one.
“Even though Washington agreed to postpone levying additional tariffs on Chinese goods to make way for negotiations, and Trump even hinted at putting off decisions on Huawei until the end of negotiations, things are still very much up in the air,” the daily said in an editorial.
“Agreement on 90 percent of the issues has proved not to be enough, and with the remaining 10 percent where their fundamental differences reside, it is not going to be easy to reach a 100-percent consensus, since at this point, they remain widely apart even on the conceptual level,” it added.
Trump initiated the trade war with China last year, when he first imposed unusually heavy tariffs on imports from the country. Since then, the two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than 360 billion dollars in two-way trade.
Beijing and Washington have also held talks to settle the issue, but to no avail so far.
During the Saturday meeting in Osaka, the US president pledged not to levy more tariffs on Chinese goods as trade negotiations continued and also softened his stance on the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Xi, for his part, agreed to increase purchases of American agriculture goods during the negotiations.
“We’re holding back on tariffs, and they’re going to buy farm products,” Trump said at a news conference after the meeting. “If we make a deal, it will be a very historic event.”
Trump also said Washington would allow Huawei to buy products from US companies so long as the telecoms company did not pose a threat to national security.
Trump had earlier threatened to expand existing US tariffs to cover almost all imports from China into the United States if the Osaka meeting brought no progress.
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