China to US: Don't Politicize Trade Rows

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 12/11/2007 02:31:00 AM
As you are probably aware of by now, the Chinese leadership likes using the term "political" to denote something undesirable. Don't politicize Chinese product safety. Don't use the Beijing Olympics to politicize human rights abuses in Sudan. Don't politicize splittist movements by meeting with renegades like the Dalai Lama (Tibet) and Chen Shiu-Bian (Taiwan). And, of course, how can we ever forget that old chestnut, don't politicize US-China conflicts over trade. It is odd that China expects a politics-free treatment of these issues abroad when they concern very divisive issues with considerable distributive consequences--the very essence of politics--such as trade, human rights, and state sovereignty. In short, politics are inevitable. Come to think of it, isn't blocking US ships from docking in Hong Kong sort of (gasp!), political?

Obviously, though, the Chinese leadership is not reading IPE Zone meanderings. Here is yet another official take on Sino-American trade spats, from Reuters:

The United States should resolve trade rows with China through dialogue on an equal footing and should not politicize them, a senior Commerce Ministry official said in remarks published on Monday. The warning by Chen Deming came a day after Finance Minister Xie Xuren said legislation being considered by the U.S. Congress could seriously harm trade ties with China. [Chen Deming replaced Bo Xilai as China's trade minister at the end of November.]

The comments put down a marker for two rounds of cabinet-level talks in Beijing this week. On Tuesday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Trade Representative Susan Schwab take the lead, followed on Wednesday by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. [It's Strategic Economic Dialogue time].

In an interview with the official China Daily, Chen expressed concern that the trend towards politicizing trade and economic issues could mount as the November 2008 U.S. presidential election approaches. America's record trade deficit with China will be high on the agenda this week. Washington wants Beijing to open its market wider to foreign firms and let the yuan rise faster. Chen, a newly appointed vice-minister who is in line to take over the top job, said U.S. media coverage of issues such as the exchange rate, food safety and intellectual property rights had been "hindering the normal development" of two-way ties.

He said growing economic independence meant the two countries had more and more common interests that called for cooperation. "Thus, the two sides should clarify the responsibility each side should shoulder, face and resolve structural problems in the economy, and strengthen dialogue and communication," he told the paper. "We should avoid unreasonably and unilaterally blaming the other side," he added.