China on Wednesday hit back at claims by US President Donald Trump that America had the upper hand in the trade war, with the foreign ministry accusing him of using “false information” to support his argument.
Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday that the US was “having a little squabble with China because we’ve been treated very unfairly for many, many decades”.
He said on Twitter the same day that: “China will be pumping money into their system and probably reducing interest rates, as always, in order to make up for the business they are, and will be, losing.”
The tariffs the US had imposed on Chinese imports meant manufacturers would move away from China so they could maintain their access the US market, he said.
“Many companies are leaving China so that they will be more competitive for USA buyers.”
But China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, rejected Trump’s claims, saying that Beijing had “full confidence” in its economy, which has continued to grow despite the protectionist trade barriers put up by the US.
The US president had no authority to speak on China’s economic performance and was using spurious data to make his point, he said.
“They are not the economic authorities of China,” Geng said. “Why are they saying this and that about the Chinese economy? Their information is all false and fake.”
Tensions between the US and China rose on Friday after Trump made good on his threat to increase the tariff rate on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 per cent. He justified the rise by saying Beijing had failed to deliver on promises it had made during the trade war “truce”, though he said a deal was still possible.
China responded to Washington’s move on Monday, saying it would raise the tariffs on US$60 billion worth of goods it imports from the US to as high as 25 per cent on June 1.
Trump said that American farmers, whose products are the main targets of Beijing’s retaliation, would be “one of the biggest beneficiaries” of the trade war, as China would either continue to buy from them or pay tariffs, which would be used to make up for the farmers’ losses.
“There is no reason for the US consumers to pay the tariffs,” he said in a tweet.
Geng said that despite the US tariff increases, China’s total exports in the January to April period rose 4.3 per cent year on year, thanks to big jumps in trade with Europe and Southeast Asia.
“Our partners are all over the world,” he said. “If someone doesn’t want to do business with China, there will surely be others to fill this gap.”
Geng also said that domestic demand had become the main driver of China’s economic growth – accounting for 72.6 per cent of the total in 2018 – and that the economy grew by 6.4 per cent in the first quarter, exceeding most expectations.
“We are confident and capable of resisting any external risks and impact,” he said. “We will further open up and carry out reforms at our own pace, and according to our own timetable and road map.”
Geng, however, did not mention the weaker economic data reported by Beijing on Wednesday. The latest figures showed that industrial production, for example – a measure of the output of the country’s manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors – grew by just 5.4 per cent in April, down sharply from 8.5 per cent in March.
The spokesman said Trump’s claim that US consumers were immune from the trade war defied common sense.
The president was “trying to confuse the public”, and America’s farmers and consumers would ultimately pay the price, he said.
“I call on the US side … to have a clear understanding of the situation as early as possible and come back to the right track, meet us halfway and try to reach a win-win agreement on the basis of mutual respect,” he said.
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