The U.S. administration on June 3 said the Chinese regime, in its recent statements and a white paper released over the weekend, was pursuing a “blame game” and misrepresenting trade negotiations between the two countries.
In a joint statement, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Treasury Department expressed disappointment in the Chinese regime’s framing of trade discussions in its June 2 white paper, which squarely laid blame on the United States for the breakdown in talks.
They also reiterated that the Chinese regime backtracked on previously agreed-upon provisions, including an enforcement provision, prompting the U.S. administration to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
“The impetus for the discussions was China’s long history of unfair trade practices. Our negotiating positions have been consistent throughout these talks, and China back-pedaled on important elements of what the parties had agreed to,” the statement said.
“One such position was the need for enforceability, a position necessitated by China’s history of making commitments that it fails to keep.
“But our insistence on detailed and enforceable commitments from the Chinese in no way constitutes a threat to Chinese sovereignty. Rather, the issues discussed are common to trade agreements and are necessary to address the systemic issues that have contributed to persistent and unsustainable trade deficits.”
On June 2, the Chinese regime released a white paper outlining its position in the trade talks, in which it cited three alleged instances in which the United States backtracked on commitments made during negotiations.
In making these allegations, the paper, in some cases, did not clearly indicate how U.S. actions amounted to backtracking, and in others, misrepresented agreements and outcomes of trade discussions.
“The United States is disappointed that the Chinese have chosen in the ‘White Paper’…and recent public statements to pursue a blame game misrepresenting the nature and history of trade negotiations between the two countries,” the USTR and Treasury said.
The agencies, which have led the talks on the U.S. side, went on to outline a history of the trade discussions, leading up to the current impasse.
Trade discussions, the statement said, began after the USTR’s 301 investigation was released last March. The USTR found that the regime’s unfair trade practices, including theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced technology transfer, and cyber theft of trade secrets, have cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
President Donald Trump imposed an increase in tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports on May 10, saying that the Chinese regime “broke the deal.” The Chinese regime retaliated with tariff hikes on $60 billion of U.S. goods.
The Trump administration later effectively barred Chinese telecom giant Huawei from doing business with U.S. suppliers, on national security grounds. In apparent retaliation to this move, the regime recently announced it would set up an “unreliable entity list” of foreign companies, individuals, and organizations that harm Chinese businesses, without identifying which entities would be put on the list nor what punishment would be imposed.
Since the breakdown of trade talks, China has escalated its rhetorical attacks on the United States through state-run media, portraying the country as an adversary and bully, and blaming it for the lack of progress in discussions.
No talks have been scheduled since the last round ended in May, and it remains unclear whether Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet when they both attend the G20 leaders summit later this month in Japan.
Reuters contributed to this report.