China-U.S. trade talks: Another round, interrupted
Editor's note: Zou Yue joined CCTV in 2003, and in 2010 became the anchor of China 24, a flagship news magazine show on CCTV NEWS, the predecessor of CGTN. Since 1997, Zou has covered major events across China, including Hong Kong and Macao's return to China, China's first manned space flight, the Six-Party talks in Beijing, the Wenchuan earthquake, and Shenzhou and Chang'e space missions to name a few.
This is the 11th round of trade talks, and it is a tense round.
A day earlier, the U.S. fired another shot by raising tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese products to 25 percent. For the Chinese, the elimination of tariffs is the exact point of trade.
On the contrary, the U.S. reneged on its promise made in Buenos Aires to have a mutually accepted agreement. It is simply unimaginable that the U.S. can dictate the terms in one negotiation, or any negotiations.
The obvious result of the tariff hike is that someone will pay, but there are disagreements on whom.
Trump thinks that America has a good market and a low unemployment rate so it can sustain a trade war, but he forgets this premise: Businesses are doing well because they think the trade war will end soon, and they could be wrong.
The U.S. has obviously mistaken the cost of the trade war, and also misjudged the target. Apparently, the U.S. has miscalculated at least on two fronts.
First, it has underestimated the resilience of the Chinese economy which has seen steady and robust growth with the world's most complete industrial system and vigorous demand. Second, the U.S. has understated China's resolve to defend its core interests.
China is not the one that started the trade war and will not be the one to end it. Yes, China is also paying the price.
Manufacturers have to consider other markets, and some factories are moving out of the country. But a consumption-driven economy has not relied on export as much as before, and the Chinese system is much better shock-proof. Yet the whole world still suffers. It is the kind of boiling-the-frog kind of pain: Slow but deadly.
Tariffs, inflicting pain on makers and consumers alike, are like a stick hitting the spokes of a bicycle wheel. It breaks a cycle.
Rebalance, a long shot
But even President Trump understands tariffs are not the goal, but a form of leverage.
What is worrying is the force behind him.
The trade tensions and technology disputes are about trust.
Everywhere and everything is a threat if you have fear in your heart. There are threats of China's rising and the fading of American pre-eminence. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sees China as “the greatest challenge that the United States will face in the medium to long term.”
There are many reasons behind why China and America have maintained a benign relationship in the past 40 years; the end of the Cold War, globalized trade and the fight against terrorism among others.
But the balance of power is the key, China has been the learner, the follower, and the pursuer, while America enjoyed the comfort of being courted, supplied and sought after. But the fast growth of China has produced knee jerk repulsion in America. The countries no longer have faith in each other.
Find a bigger room
What is fundamentally wrong are the American elites now channeling the nationalist anger in a destructive direction.
Be it the trade deficit, technology transfers or market access; these problems are important, but not as important as the interdependence of our economies. The U.S. and China share the same value chain, and when the chain snaps, our values dissipate.
The question of ‘Who will lead the world economy' is the elephant in the room. The future of the whole world hinges on the answer, but I still think that lies in our perspectives. We can work together.
When American and Chinese leaders meet, they talk much on trade, probably too much. Somebody told me a joke: In order for the Chinese and Americans to trust each other again, we need a Martian invasion.
The world has so many problems, America and China need to be open-minded and versatile, and the world needs to be more relaxed, calmer and civilized.
You have two elephants in the room, they are going to rub against each other and toes will be stepped on. But if they are smart enough, they will eventually find a bigger room.
Script: Zou Yue
Video photographer: Zhao Ruixuan
Animation: Ma Zhiyuan
Video editors: Li Linxi, Li Yahui and Wang Zengzheng
Designers: Zou Yue, Li Linxi
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)