US, China need to restrain trade conflict: Kissinger
By Li Qiaoyi, Song Lin and Ma Jingjing
There is a huge difference between the current US-China trade tussle and the Cold War confrontations, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said at a session at the New Economy Forum held in Beijing, where he expressed hopes for success in the China-US ongoing trade negotiations.
Compared with past conflicts the world witnessed, Kissinger said, “In our period, we do not yet have this degree of rivalry … but we also don’t have formal negotiations to reduce the political conflict.”
“China is a major economic country, and so are we… and so we are bound to step on each other’s toes,” said the renowned US statesman, toning down concerns over the possibility of a trade-war-ignited cold war, or even a hot war.
“So a discussion of our mutual purposes and an attempt to limit the impact of conflict seems to me essential … and if conflict is permitted to run unconstrained, the outcome could be even worse (than past conflicts)”.
Kissinger flew covertly to Beijing in July 1971 and helped open up a new leaf in the China-US bilateral relationship based on engagement and cooperation.
China, by its sheer magnitude, is about to become a major factor in the international system, Kissinger said, casting his mind back to his original concept of the relationship between China and the US.
Kissinger also voiced hope for success in the ongoing trade talks between the two countries.
“Trade negotiations, which I hope will succeed and whose success I support, can only be a small beginning to a political discussion that I hope will take place by the year’s end,” he said.
The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a trade war for 16 months. Despite substantial progress having been made in the latest round of trade talks in October, some still hold a cautious attitude toward whether the two could finally reach a substantial “phase-one deal”.
Gao Feng, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), said at a regular press briefing on Thursday, November 21, that China and US trade negotiators will continue to maintain close communications.
“China is willing to make joint efforts with the US based on equivalence and mutual respect to properly handle each other’s core concerns in an effort to achieve a phase-one trade deal,” Gao said.
Henry Paulson, former US treasury secretary, said at the same forum that “it’s a tough time in terms of the challenges we are facing in the global economy… and this forum is focused on the fastest-growing parts of the economy and the newest technologies.”
Although traditional economic models have been challenged and can’t work as well as they used to, “terrific opportunities” also exist along with the complex challenges, Paulson said.
Moves to undercut ties between the US and China would weaken the US’ leadership and its leading role in the finance sector, according to Paulson.
In the first 10 months of this year, China’s exports to the US stood at 2.39 trillion yuan ($340 billion), sliding 6.8 percent, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Referring to the US, Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of commerce, said on Thursday that “unlike certain countries, China is not aggressive and doesn’t put its interests ahead of other countries, because it doesn’t conform to the current global development trend.”
Henry Kissinger seen at the forum in Beijing on Thursday (Photo: Courtesy of the New Economy Forum)