China insists it’s not a threat to US as trade war looms


SINGAPORE • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (picture) criticised the US’ decision to brand the country as a “strategic competitor”, dismissing the notion that it poses a threat to the world’s biggest economy.

Wang told a briefing on the sidelines of China’s national legislative session yesterday that the designation included in recent Trump administration national security documents was “fundamentally wrong”. The foreign minister said Beijing was committed to peaceful development, and greater cooperation was needed to address issues like trade and North Korea.

“Although the ‘China Threat Theory’ has now been reprinted, it’s even less persuasive because facts speak louder than words,” Wang said, citing China’s economic growth and contributions to world peace at the United Nations. “As long as we don’t look with prejudice or double standards, what we can see is not a threat but fulsome opportunities. The so-called ‘China Threat Theory’ can be laid to rest.”

Concerns about the US-China rivalry have heated up as US President Donald Trump and his economic advisors prepare to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, while leaving open the possibility to exempting some allies. On Wednesday, Trump hinted that his restrictions on trade could run even deeper, citing China’s alleged theft of intellectual property (IP).

“If there is any competition between us, it has to be healthy and positive,” Wang said, in response to a question from Bloomberg News. “China and US don’t have to be rivals, but can be partners in competition.”

The US is said to be considering clamping down on Chinese investment and imposing tariffs on a broad range of goods to punish Beijing over unfair IP practices as part of an ongoing US investigation ordered by Trump.

In his remarks, Wang issued one of China’s most forceful responses yet to the looming trade actions.

“A trade war is never the right solution,” Wang said. “In a globalised world, it is particularly unhelpful, as it will harm both the initiator and the target countries. In the event of a trade war, China will make a justified and necessary response.”

Meanwhile, the foreign minister said efforts to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table were at a “crucial moment” and urged both parties to work together. South Korean envoys are preparing to brief US officials in Washington on their latest talks with Kim Jong-un.