The United States recently published three lists of goods from China involving a total of 437 items on which it will lift tariffs. This is the largest case of the United States removing tariffs to date and is widely regarded as a positive gesture from Washington.
Second-tier China-U.S. economic and trade negotiations are now being held to prepare for next month’s high level China-U.S. economic and trade talks. Both China and the United States have recently announced the elimination of tariffs on certain commodities. The elimination of these taxes will not affect the overall trade situation between the two countries, but they do constitute a benign interaction between the two sides that may be beneficial to next month’s talks.
One might describe the China-U.S. trade war as confusing. The two sides are taking conflicting positions, and it is difficult to say whether or not they are any closer to reaching an agreement as they travel further apart. Regardless of the trade war and the overall relationship between China and the United States, there remain many different possible outcomes.
For example, we must ask whether the trade war is a matter of dispute over national interests, or is the U.S. simply attempting to challenge China's strategic attack? We believe that the elite group in Washington is going after profits by taking extreme strategic actions. How the situation develops will depend on the interaction between China and the United States and how different opinions on the issues will be resolved in the United States.
It is not easy for China and the United States to engage in benign interaction at the moment. In addition to the need for both sides to maintain their negotiating position, the trade war has objectively altered the public’s perception of the other within the two countries. Presently, the public in both the United States and in China is more likely to approve countermeasures to avoid confrontation. Acts of goodwill require public approval before they are put in place, while actual operations have to be approached more cautiously.
However, heated public opinion does not necessarily reflect the true feelings of the public in both countries, and such public opinion does not necessarily reflect the people’s wishes. In the United States, the trade postures of both parties in Congress are very tough, and Fox News broadcasts plenty of incendiary reports. However, in various noticeable ways, the American public hopes that its desire for the trade war to end as soon as possible can be clearly seen. Not only does the U.S. stock market welcome any good news from negotiations between the two countries, the various speeches by senior government officials also suggest that if a trade agreement can be reached before the election, United States public will welcome that result most heartily.
That the China-U.S. trade war has reached the scale it has today must have been unimaginable to both sides; indeed, the worst case scenario imagined by either side. If such a trade war continues, the serious adverse effects are self-evident. Even if they are not fully visible today, they will certainly not go undetected in the future. The politicization of economic consequences is also certain. The trade war will continue indefinitely, and the final test will be the political endurance of China and the United States. It can be said with certainty that such a political test carries greater risks for the U.S. than it does for China.
In reality, both China and the United States have good reason to take advantage of the upcoming 13th round of high-level economic and trade negotiations. In both the previous and current rounds of these consultations, China and the United States engaged in volatile confrontations and communication restarts, further testing the will and strength of both sides, but also exposing the explosive nature of the trade war.
If we consider the trade war to be an international strategy, certainly no one in any country will ever welcome such an approach. However, in response to real public opinion, achieving the end of the trade war or its soft landing is a challenging task that is much more complicated than escalating trade wars. We believe the words and deeds that help ease the tensions of the trade war help the two sides to think calmly about providing reasons to ease demands on the other side and should be regarded as evidence of goodwill. We should support and encourage such positive signals, whether from the Chinese or the U.S., and the other side should respond positively as well.
There are some ideas in Chinese and American societies that contradict each other. However, despite the power of both countries, neither possesses the ability to realize those extreme ideas, and they do not have the determination to bear the massive costs associated with implementing them. Moreover, this is an increasingly realistic and secular world. If you shout and create a disturbance, the most members of the public will definitely reject you. There is a chance that China and the United States could be dismantled by all kinds of secular interests when they confront each other. This trade war is destined to reach epic proportions and will be a crime against history, and mark a historical trend. Ending the trade war, no matter how difficult it is right now, will certainly be viewed as a positive moment in history.