Against the backdrop of President Trump and the Chinese government slapping tariffs on each other’s goods, a move that threatens to foment a trade war, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Tuesday that what’s souring relations between the superpowers isn’t the cost of imports and exports, but an “understanding deficit.”
During an address at Harvard Law School about the state of U.S.-China relations, Cui Tiankai, Beijing’s longest-serving ambassador to this country, sought to clear up what he views as misperceptions about China’s true economic and political goals.
During his speech and a discussion with Michael Szonyi, professor of Chinese history and director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Cui downplayed talk of a trade war, saying that such a development would not only destroy trade between the two countries, damaging both economies, but could undermine global confidence in both as well.
Cui rejected complaints that China does not offer a level playing field to foreign companies seeking access to its markets and said “some” observers think conditions are stacked unfairly against China.
He also denied that the government forced outside technology companies to hand over their intellectual property as a requirement for doing business in China. There is “no such policy” on the state level, he said carefully, and if such a scenario exists at all, it is “simply a business deal” that companies enter into willingly.
A trade war would “poison the atmosphere” not just on trade and the economy, but potentially on many other issues in which China and the United States are entwined, leading to further problems.