China says it doesn’t want to ‘lord it over’ other countries, as it prepares to sign US trade deal

Wendy Wu

China has again stressed that its rise was peaceful, saying it did not want to “lord it over” other countries in a commentary in Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily on Tuesday.

It also sought to send a message that it was not seeking to displace the United States, just as Beijing and Washington are preparing to sign an interim deal to defuse trade tensions.

Beijing would also keep its promises to open up and contribute to the world economy and improve global governance, according to the year-end commentary wrapping up 2019.

“China has never wanted to threaten, challenge or displace anyone, nor has it wanted to lord it over others,” said the commentary, written by Guo Jiping, a People’s Daily pen name used to outline Beijing’s stance on key international issues.

It also reviewed four decades of China-US relations, saying “cooperation, not conflict, and mutual promotion, not mutual containment” was the foundation of the countries’ bilateral ties.

The world’s two biggest economies reached agreement in mid-December to de-escalate the trade war. Under the so-called phase one trade deal, China has agreed to increase its purchases of US agricultural and manufactured goods in return for the US rolling back tariffs on Chinese products. The two sides are expected to sign the deal as early as next week.

Chinese officials have not confirmed the specific amount of purchases agreed to in the 86-page document, but Beijing has emphasised that the deal was reached on the basis of “equality and mutual respect”.

The commentary stressed that Beijing had not caved to pressure from Washington.

“China has never bowed to the extreme pressure applied by the US in the trade war and we have stood firm in defending our core interests and the interests of the Chinese people,” it said. “We have no fear of fighting, but we also have patience for talks.”

It made little reference to the broader frictions between China and the US in areas ranging from technology and security to ideology and human rights.

The two countries have exchanged barbs in recent months over the ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong and the mass detention of Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, the US has continued to pressure its allies in Europe and elsewhere to block Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from their 5G markets, citing national security concerns.

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The commentary noted that “unstable and uncertain factors in the global situation have increased, and China will continue to face external challenges and shocks”. It did not elaborate on potential risks and challenges, but said China “clearly knows where it came from and where it is heading to”.

It reiterated that Beijing was not seeking to overhaul the global governance system, but to improve it.

The commentary also said China’s market presented huge opportunities for foreign businesses, highlighting the country’s middle-income population of 400 million potential customers. It said Beijing was pushing to meet its ambitious target of eradicating extreme poverty by late 2020.

“In 2020, the problem of absolute poverty will come to an end,” according to the commentary. “China is opening its arms to offer more opportunities in the market, and investment and growth to every country to realise joint development,” it added.

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