As the trade war with China rages with no end in sight, President Trump has continued to spout optimistic rhetoric, even if it doesn’t have quite the same market-moving potential as it once did.
But over in Beijing, where President Xi recently warned his people to “prepare for a new Long March”, the trade-related rhetoric has grown increasingly belligerent and antagonistic since Washington decided to blacklist Huawei. The commentary from senior officials appears to undermine the prospects for Trump and Xi hammering out a sweeping deal on the sidelines of the upcoming G-20 summit in Osaka.
One senior Chinese diplomat lashed out at Washington on Thursday, denouncing the trade dispute as “naked economic terrorism” and “economic bullying,” and asserting that Beijing isn’t afraid of an enduring trade conflict.
Here’s more from Reuters:
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said China opposed the use of “big sticks” like trade sanctions, tariffs and protectionism.
“We oppose a trade war but are not afraid of a trade war. This kind of deliberately provoking trade disputes is naked economic terrorism, economic chauvinism, economic bullying,” Zhang said, when asked about the trade war with the United States.
During the press briefing, which was ostensibly called to answer questions about President Xi’s upcoming trip to Russia, where he will appear at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Zhang warned about the adverse impact on the global economy (perhaps a subtle clue that Beijing won’t come to the rescue with a ‘Shanghai Accord 2.0’).
Everyone loses in a trade war, he added, addressing a briefing on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia next week, where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and speak at a major investor forum in St Petersburg.
“This trade clash will have a serious negative effect on global economic developmentand recovery,” Zhang added.
“We will definitely properly deal with all external challenges, do our own thing well, develop our economy, and continue to raise the living standards of our two peoples,” he said, referring to China and Russia.
“At the same time, we have the confidence, resolve and ability to safeguard our country’s sovereignty, security, respect and security and development interests.”
Ministry of Commerce Spokesman Gao Feng warned during a different news conference that China “will fight to the end”, and that Beijing wouldn’t tolerate its rare earth metals being used against it – the latest threat to curb exports of the critical rare earth metals, a “nuclear option” that Beijing has readily embraced following the latest round of escalation.
At the same time, Beijing has reportedly asked state media companies to tone down their rhetoric, and what was expected to be a heated “trade war debate” between Fox Business host Trish Regan and a popular Chinese news commentator instead took the form of an amicable discussion.
Taking this into consideration, it would appear that Beijing is sending Washington a message: Trump and his senior officials aren’t the only ones who can play ‘good cop, bad cop’ on trade.