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US illusion of “suffering losses” derives from zero-sum thinking

Claiming that the United States is “being taken advantage of” in trade with China, the current US government frequently takes unilateralist and protectionist measures in the name of addressing US trade deficits, initiated and constantly escalated the China-US economic and trade friction, ignoring the mutually-beneficial and win-win nature of China-US economic and trade as well as multilateral trade rules. Therefore, the State Council Information Office issued a white paper titled “China’s Position on the China-US Economic and Trade Consultations” on June 2, and Ministry of Commerce issued a report on US gains from bilateral economic and trade cooperation on June 6.

China-US economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial, the US is not “being taken advantage of”. The white paper says: “Turning a blind eye to the nature of the economic structure and the stage of development in China and the US, as well as the reality of the international industrial division of labor, the US insists that China’s ‘unfair’ and ‘non-reciprocal’ trade policies have created a trade deficit in bilateral commercial exchanges that constitutes ‘being taken advantage of’, leading to unilateral imposition of additional tariffs on China.” In fact, China and the US have achieved a big stride in the development of bilateral economic cooperation over the past 40 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations.

The Chinese market is so crucial to US economy that US exports to China supported over 1.1 million jobs from 2009 to 2018, the US-China Business Council stated on May 1, 2019. Therefore, the breadth and depth of China-US economic and trade cooperation have made the two countries’ economic interests highly interconnected. In global production networks, economic and trade cooperation based on free trade is bound to bring the two sides mutual benefits, and it’s hard to say which side “is taken advantage of” from the perspective of net profits from trade.

As the founder and huge beneficiary of the current international economic order, the US should abandon the zero-sum thinking and the concept of “being taken advantage of” and reconstruct the win-win relationship with China.

First, in the circumstance of the current international economic order, China-US economic and trade cooperation is far more important than confrontation. Both sides have the motivation to jointly uphold the current international economic order and WTO rules.

Second, if the US abandons zero-sum thinking in favor of a win-win relationship, it will be more conducive to maintaining the credibility of the US dollar as international currency.

Third, the US should seek common ground while shelving difference, find ways to solve economic and trade frictions and treat global cooperation and competition with a healthy mentality as a responsible power, so as to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, instead of confrontation.

Contributed by Shen Guobing for Guangming Daily

Translated by Zhang Zhou

[ Editor: WPY ]