China and the United States should prevent populism from undermining the ongoing China-US trade talks, which is an important avenue to discuss all matters related to the two countries’ trade frictions in order to avoid misunderstandings about each other’s strategic intentions, said an expert.
Long Yongtu, chairman of the Advisory Board of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a Chinese think tank, made the remarks at a recent forum on globalization in Beijing.
The relationship between China and the United States would be in jeopardy if the United States miscalculates China’s strategic intention, which would incur containment of China by an America-led alliance and a full-blown trade war between the two countries, said Long, who was involved in the negotiations on China’s entry into the World Trade Organization last century.
However, Long emphasized that the topics discussed in the trade negotiations cannot be politicized and hyped by the media.
Since the beginning of the trade spat in March, which was triggered by US President Donald Trump’s announcement to impose hefty tariffs on Chinese imports, the word "trade war" has frequently appeared in the news headlines, stirring up radical patriotism.
"I took part in the negotiations on China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, which lasted for more than a decade. At the time, what I was worried most was that the public views might affect the negotiations. Fortunately, China was so lucky because the power of the Internet was not as strong as now, otherwise, the negotiations would have failed," recalled Long.
The former trade negotiator suggested that government officials should keep themselves out of the media hype and deal with the trade problems under the principles and strategies as planned.
"[They] can never cater to the public views [which twist the facts] by containing statements that go against basic [negotiating] guidelines which have been set," said Long, stressing that the tool for negotiators to create a win-win result at the negotiating table is professionalism.
Only by adopting professionalism in negotiations can we protect China’s long-term interests, said Long.
So far, top trade officials of China and the United States have kept in touch since the trade frictions between the two countries fueled international concerns over a full-scale trade war, which will be detrimental to the world economy.
The two countries have held two rounds of trade negotiations respectively in Beijing and Washington for a settlement to the trade dispute. And US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will reportedly travel to Beijing next week to help finalize a trade agreement after the two countries released a joint statement, according to which China will buy more American products to reduce its trade surplus with the United States.
Long argued that China should stick to the principle of hiding one’s capabilities and biding one’s time, which was put forth by Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China’s economic reforms and socialist modernization, while taking on more international responsibilities as a great power.
At the same time, Long said that China should cement its confidence in building a new type of great power relationship with the United States and in the prospects of globalization, under which the business interests of countries are intertwined.