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Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 22:48
WTO ruling confirms US unjust in accusing China and illegitimate on trade tariffs
By Tom Fowdy
Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 22:48 By Tom Fowdy

The judges of the World Trade Organization on Sept 15 ruled that the US administration’s tariffs against China, imposed as part of the US-initiated trade war in 2018 and 2019, were inconsistent with international trade rules.

 “The US had not met its burden of demonstrating that the measures are provisionally justified,” the judges stated, noting that the United States had failed to prove how China’s products had benefitted from accusations targeted against them. The panel further agreed with Beijing’s observations that the tariffs were unfair because they targeted one country and were higher than American commitments. The ruling urged a resolution to the dispute.

ALSO READ: China hopes US will respect WTO ruling

Despite Washington’s talking points, when evidence is set out firmly it is revealed again that the administration is engaging in misinformation when it fires allegations at China concerning technology or trade.

The WTO ruling illustrates that America’s positions are ideologically and politically motivated rather than representing genuine trade grievances and reminds the world that the weaponization of unilateral tariffs as a political weapon to hurt another country is not a legitimate or fair means of conduct

The WTO ruling illustrates that America’s positions are ideologically and politically motivated rather than representing genuine trade grievances and reminds the world that the weaponization of unilateral tariffs as a political weapon to hurt another country is not a legitimate or fair means of conduct.

Thus the White House’s trade war against China is inherently unjust, and the “America First” policy represents a threat to the multilateral trading system.

The application of tariffs against China stems from a number of misleading claims pushed through an allegation that persistently claimed the country “cheats” on trade and technology – a generalized allegation not backed by sufficient evidence.

ALSO READ: WTO: US violated trade rules with tariffs on China

The US government has misleadingly claimed that China’s export goods to America are subsidized by Beijing which undermines the competitiveness of US industries and thus “China” is responsible for job losses. It has also claimed that China has repeatedly engaged in the “theft of technology” from the US. Therefore, the White House has argued, additional levying of goods is necessary as a “defensive” response to “unfair trading practices”.

These US claims are false. The White House ignores the facts that many of China’s exports to America are not from “state subsidized firms” but from private US companies who choose China as a manufacturing base due to its sound supply chain infrastructure and cheaper labor force. There is no conspiracy to take away US jobs other than the inevitable output of globalization which leads businesses to seek more profitable destinations rather than to manufacture at home.

ALSO READ: US urged not to obstruct normal trade

The US claims also ignore the fact that China’s role in the supply chain has actually supported US manufacturing by making parts cheaper. Hence when the current US administration applied tariffs in 2019, the impact saw America’s manufacturing PMI crash. The claim is both dishonest and self-defeating.

On intellectual property, the US administration has deliberately ignored the fact the US holds a trade surplus in the legitimate exporting and sale of intellectual property rights to Chinese companies, and its claims of “technology theft” are not only vastly exaggerated, but built on a longstanding racist mythology which seeks to portray Chinese culture in dishonest terms.

This claim of “technology theft” has instead been used to provide cover for America’s bid to wage tech assaults against Chinese companies with the goal of maintaining hegemony over strategic capabilities and components in order to strategically constrain Beijing and block its development. The false US accusation goes against the fact that the US has itself benefitted overwhelmingly from technology ties with China.

As a result, it is easy to perceive when looking at real evidence that the White House’s trade war against China is opportunistic, politically motivated, and illegitimate. The WTO rule on Sept 15 has merely confirmed the obvious.

READ MORE: China extends tariff exemptions for 16 US products

The US administration has at large weaponized dishonest and cliché talking points in order to justify its geopolitical ambitions against Beijing. Its utilization of so-called “trade grievances”, ignoring the fact that ties with China have lucratively benefitted America in multiple areas, is very much a part of it.

The protectionist policies and mispresentations of the White House ultimately pose a threat to the order of free trade, as well as to global prosperity and economic growth as a whole.

Although the ruling will not change the current US administration’s position, it ought to set a precedent for succeeding US presidency that this behavior is incorrect and inconsistent with international law and is not treating China fairly.


The author is a British political and international relations analyst. 


The views do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.


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