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Interview: U.S. business leader calls U.S. tariff weapon "counterproductive"

by Xinhua writer Ye Zaiqi

SAN FRANCISCO, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Washington's moves of using tariffs as a weapon to force China into a trade deal are "counterproductive," a U.S. business leader said Tuesday.

The U.S. position on solving trade disputes with China by using tariffs is "very aggressive" but "counterproductive," said Steve Hoffman, a veteran investor and CEO of Founders Space, a leading incubator and accelerator in Silicon Valley.

The entrepreneur and angel investor, often called Captain Hoff, voiced in an interview with Xinhua his worries about a hostile environment being created between the world's two largest economies, which he foresaw will have lasting repercussions.

After Washington increased additional tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent on May 10 and threatened to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports, China announced that it will raise additional tariffs imposed on some of the U.S. imports from June 1.

Since their economies are intertwined and interdependent, both Beijing and Washington will be seriously impacted by the tariff-featured trade disputes, Hoffman said. "The consumers and the businesses here are going to pay for those high prices."

"The United States and China combined impact the world. So if we are in a trade war, it is not just our problem. It is going to impact every other country in the world," he added.

"Right now, the negative impacts of the U.S.-China trade conflicts are broadening beyond (U.S.) agriculture and beyond commodities, like steel and other stuff, into consumer electronics and other areas. And that could have a big impact in my home turf which is Silicon Valley," he added.

Hoffman, also an expert on China, said many Americans, including politicians in Washington, understand little Chinese history and have no idea of what China has gone through over the last several centuries.

In modern history, China was once bullied and treated unfairly in foreign trade by Western powers, including the United States, and now China will not surrender "its own rights" or "be dictated by foreign powers", Hoffman said, adding that "just like the United States wouldn't either."

"Throughout history, we've seen that the more trade happens, the more all parties around the world will benefit ... when we're negotiating our trade deals, I firmly believe it's to everyone's benefit in the long run to have free and fair trade," Hoffman said.

The leadership in Washington should learn more history to cooperate and negotiate with China more effectively, said the investor.

Hoffman also said that Trump's administration has started trade disputes with not only China, but also Mexico, Canada, the European Union and South Korea, and "most of the trade wars have not resulted in a real benefit to the Americanism or the American economy."

He criticized the U.S. government for pushing its trade partners into a "win-lose situation," saying that "such a mentality and views about the world are fundamentally untrue and it's not an accurate way of perceiving the world."

"In fact, such trade wars are just disruptive to business on both sides, which created uncertainty, confusion, and the whole supply chains and everything that businesses have planned for get turned upside down," he said.

Meanwhile, Hoffman said free and fair trade is "a win-win" for all, and that "in fact, America wins bigger when we trade more with more different countries, when we lower tariffs and lower barriers."

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]