The Communist Party’s top journal set out the leadership’s position on the trade war in a series of essays published on Sunday, suggesting a “win-win” deal to end the dispute was still possible but vowing to “struggle to the end” if necessary.
Bimonthly journal Qiushi, or “Seeking Truth”, is required reading for all cadres and forms the basis for the rank and file of the party to understand the leadership’s position on key issues.
In the essays, the journal sought to clarify the party’s position on the trade war with the United States, laying out arguments that portray China as occupying the moral high ground in the conflict, while repeatedly questioning Washington’s logic for starting the dispute.
While China wishes to avoid a prolonged conflict, which would be in no one’s interest, it is prepared for one, the journal made clear.
The message comes ahead of a possible meeting – which Beijing has not yet confirmed – between President Xi Jinping and US leader Donald Trump during the Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month. The journal also reiterated Beijing’s support for the G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and other multilateral institutions.
In the main 13,000-character essay on US-China relations, it gave a 10-point explanation of the party’s stance, arguing that the conflict “comes down to whether the relationship is a zero-sum game or win-win, confrontation or cooperation, closed-door or open-door, monopoly or competition, unilateralism or multilateralism”.
The essay repeated Beijing’s complaints about US tactics during the 11 rounds of negotiations that broke down in early May, but suggested that a rapprochement was possible by “considering the big picture”. However, if that did not happen, it suggested a prolonged trade war was likely.
“China looks forward to a win-win agreement [to end the trade war] based on mutual respect and equality. Our sincerity remains the same, our principles are also impregnable. China will not fear an escalation of trade and economic conflict with the US, threats or pressure. China has no choice, no path of retreat, and can only resolutely struggle to the end,” the essay said.
“No one, no force should underestimate or look down on the iron determination and indomitable spirit of the Chinese people to fight a prolonged war.”
Since the breakdown of trade talks, Beijing has taken a tougher ideological posture towards the US, mobilising ambassadors, newspapers, and now the top party journal, to criticise US tactics in the trade war while attempting to bolster China’s global standing.
The journal’s main essay again sought to reinforce the perception that China is seeking to protect the existing global trading order while accusing the US of trying to destroy it through unilateral action.
“In the face of some people in the US continually sabotaging the current global order, China will resolutely defend the multilateral trading system, actively taking part in and leading the reform of the global system and its structure,” it said.
The journal also renewed Beijing’s long-standing call for developing markets like China to have a greater say in multilateral institutions. And it waded into the controversial topic of reforming the rules of the World Trade Organisation, but it did not address the US claim – which is the core of the US logic for the trade war – that China has ignored its obligations under those rules.
“As the world’s largest developing economy, China resolutely stands by and defends WTO rules, supports an open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, as well as supporting necessary reforms to the WTO,” the essay said.
The journal said China would also strive to maintain control over its own destiny through self-reliance, while continuing to reform and open up its economy. Beijing would “resolutely go its own way, speed up innovation, strive to control key core technology, and firmly grasp the initiative of innovation development in our own hands”, it said.
“Strengthening oneself through reform is the underlying strategy in dealing with economic and trade conflict. China will continue to deepen its reforms, China will keep its front door open, never shut it, and only open it wider and wider.”
More from South China Morning Post:
- Lessons from an old trade war: China can learn from the Japan experience
- Taiwanese companies hit by US-China trade war lured back home by Taipei
- Five myths about China must be debunked before the trade war with the US can end
This article Communist Party journal lays out China’s trade war stance ahead of possible Xi-Trump talks first appeared on South China Morning Post