Late Friday China backed out of pending trade talks with the United States that had been scheduled for next weeks, which further dimmed hopes that the two countries could resolve what President Trump has characterized as long-standing trade issues he sees as unfair to Americans.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision by Beijing to back out of talks is “the latest escalation in trade tensions.”
The decision comes after Trump imposed an additional $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, which led Beijing to retaliate by imposing tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. That prompted the president to vow placing new tariffs on an additional $257 billion worth of Chinese products, the WSJ reported.
According to the paper’s sources, Chinese government officials have said Beijing won’t bow to U.S. pressure tactics. By pulling out of the talks, the sources noted, China was merely following up on an earlier pledge to never negotiate while under threat.
“Nothing the U.S. has done has given any impression of sincerity and goodwill,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a news briefing Friday, the WSJ reported. “We hope that the U.S. side will take measures to correct its mistakes.”
“The latest exchange of tariffs, which take effect this coming Monday, brings China and the U.S. closer to a full-blown trade war,” the paper noted.
Analysis: While the Chinese make good on a pledge to refuse negotiations while under threat, President Trump is making good on his campaign pledge to improve trade conditions for the United States with countries he believes have long taken advantage of the American market, the largest in the world.
It’s hard to fault the president. China’s trade imbalances with the U.S. have been massive — in the hundreds of billions — for years. Now, much of that is due to the fact that U.S. manufacturing capacity had fallen off over the past few decades (not altogether caused by, but accelerated after, the passage of NAFTA in the early 1990s). But also the imbalance is also due, in large part, to China’s epic protectionism; that is, government policies that aim to promote Chinese industries and products over imports.
But there is more to the Trump tariffs — taxes on imports — than meets the eye.