Trade war is harming American economy more than China’s, claims official sent to US to defend Beijing’s position


The United States has sustained more economic losses than China related to the year-long trade war, a Chinese government official sent to the US to defend Beijing’s position in the stand-off and seek input from foreign policy specialists said on Wednesday.

China’s slower economic growth was due more to government efforts to cut manufacturing overcapacity and rebalance towards a service economy and less about the trade war, Bi Jiyao, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research, told a group of former US diplomats and other China watchers in New York.

The trade war had caused American exporters to lose market share in China, he said, so US President Donald Trump was wrong to think China’s slower economic growth would force Beijing to make concessions.

China’s economic growth slowed to a record low of 6.2 per cent in the second quarter.

After trying to whittle down excessive manufacturing capacity, “the economy is shifting from high-speed growth to a high-quality environment”, Bi said.

“The US has lost market share in China. Now you rank as the No 3 trading partner with China, overtaken by the Asean region.”

Bi was referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprising the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

As a bloc, the European Union is China’s largest trading partner.

China’s economic growth slowed to a record low of 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 from 6.4 per cent in the first quarter, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

In China’s economy, “1 per cent [economic] growth can generate 2 million job opportunities in the cities, and that’s enough to meet the demands of job seekers”, Bi said, adding that the country’s unemployment rate was 5.1 per cent.

Other than citing the loss of market share for some US businesses operating in China, Bi offered no evidence to support his claim that the trade war had adversely affected the US economy more than China’s.

The Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research is part of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency. He was in New York with a delegation that included Luo Linquan, vice-president of the China Public Diplomacy Association, and Chen Jianqi, deputy director of the World Economy Institute Party School of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee

Not long after China released its economic data on Monday, Trump said in a tweet: “The United States tariffs are having a major effect on companies wanting to leave China for non-tariffed countries. Thousands of companies are leaving.

“This is why China wants to make a deal with the US, and wishes it had not broken the original deal in the first place.”


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