By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter in Beijing
AS trade tensions between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America escalate, officials in Beijing this week recommitted the country to all of its ongoing projects and agreements in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Han Jing, counsellor for the Department of Latin America and Caribbean, an auxiliary office in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Monday reassured the country’s regional partners that the ongoing friction between the world’s two largest economies would not negate or slow China’s commitments.
He told regional reporters in Beijing as a part of a China-Latin America and Caribbean press programme, that while some in the region could “feel the punch” from the ongoing dispute, Beijing fully intends to uphold the system and rules of trade as presented by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“China will always be a defender and contributor to multilateral trade systems,” he said. “We will not harm our economic relations and the trade ties with the Caribbean countries.”
Last week, US President Donald Trump threatened to impose 25 per cent tariffs on $50bn in imports from China. The tariffs, if imposed, would target about 1,300 Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecommunications equipment.
According to US media reports, President Trump made the move to “punish” the People’s Republic of China for what he called the theft of American technology.
A day later, Beijing fired back with a plan to impose import duties on $50bn worth of American products, inclusive of soy beans, cars and airplanes.
That response however prompted the US president to double down on his plans last Thursday, proposing an additional $100bn in tariffs.
Addressing the back and forth on Monday, Mr Jing said the probable outbreak of a trade war has done very little to offset China’s economic policies as they relate to countries outside of the United States.
He insisted Beijing, through its Ministries of Commerce and Foreign Affairs, supports free trade and will continue to do whatever it can to uphold the multilateral trade system used at the International level.
“The US-China trade deficit can be located by experts. They can make correct easements,” he said. “So the accusations the US is making now is false and counter to our progress.”
He added: “It is all too normal that countries have trade disputes. These trade disputes should be addressed through negotiations and consultations under the framework of the WTO and other existing systems and laws. They should not be resolved through unilateral measures.”
Mr Jing said the measures being taken by the Trump White House run counter to the principles and spirit of the WTO and are not beneficial to the US and its economic interest.
He continued: “It will also harm China’s interest of course, or even the economic interest of the whole world. Our attitude is rather clear, we do not want to see the happening of a trade war, but of course we are not afraid of it either.”
Of the 13 countries that form the Latin America and Caribbean region, nine adhere to the One China Policy, and almost all now enjoy mutual beneficial trade agreements with the both China and America.
Monday’s comments out of Beijing gave insight into what a potential trade war could mean for small developing countries like The Bahamas.
Global economists have suggested a lengthy stalemate between the two countries could yield far-reaching economic strife for a large percentage of western economies that depend on imports, a group many of the Latin American and Caribbean countries fall into.