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Envoy sees more positive outlook for China, US economic ties

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang addresses an online event on Sept 23, 2021. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

China's ambassador to the United States has said the US government's trade chief has made positive comments on "recoupling" the two countries' economies, and that they can now discuss how to do this and ultimately restore currently fraught trade relations back to normal.

In a highly-anticipated speech last week, US trade representative Katherine Tai put forward a new phrase to frame the future of the China-US trade relationship, "durable coexistence", and called for a "recoupling" of the two economies.

The Chinese side is willing to have further communication and consultation with the US side, to properly manage differences, and jointly create conditions to expand the positive side of relations on the basis of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang said

This marked a clear shift from the calls for "decoupling" that US trade hawks have advocated for years.

Tai followed the unveiling of the initial China trade policy of President Joe Biden's administration with a virtual meeting with China's top trade negotiator Liu He on Saturday.

They discussed the implementation of the China-US economic and trade agreement, along with both sides' other major economic concerns.

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"I have noted that Ambassador Tai mentioned that the US is now seeking to 'recouple' with China, which has some positivity in it," Ambassador Qin Gang said on Friday.

"The two sides can sit down and sort out the areas of 'decoupling' and how to get them 'recoupled'."

When it comes to bilateral economic and trade relations, it will simply not work to "wantonly" pressurize, incite confrontation, or impose restrictions and suppression, Qin noted in an interview with Phoenix TV.

"Some people call for 'decoupling' from China. If any American company chooses to do so, it is choosing to decouple from the world's second-largest economy, from the huge consumer market of 1.4 billion people, and from Fortune 500 rankings," he said.

The Chinese side is willing to have further communication and consultation with the US side, to properly manage differences, and jointly create conditions to expand the positive side of relations on the basis of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, the envoy said.

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This is to ensure that China-US relations, including economic and trade relations, can return to the track of healthy and stable development, Qin said.

He added that to do so is also to implement the important agreement reached by China's President Xi Jinping and Biden in their phone call last month.

Asked to comment on Tai's approach to the tariffs issue, Qin said the two countries' trade frictions over the past few years have once again proved that China and the US both stand to gain from cooperation, and lose from confrontation.

Tai said that tariffs imposed on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods by the previous administration are to remain in place and could be bolstered by additional rounds, but a "targeted tariff exclusion process" would be reinstated for companies hard hit in the trade war.

"There is no winner in a trade war or tariff war. I believe that more Americans have got to understand it now," Qin said.

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"As two major economies, China and the US are one of the most important trading partners for each other. It is just normal for us to have economic competition and trade frictions. The key is how to deal with them," he said.

The two sides should pursue mutually acceptable solutions through communication and consultation, based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, the ambassador said.

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for Chinese companies to invest and go public in the US. At present, more than 900 Chinese entities have been included on various lists of restrictions by Washington, according to Qin.

He noted that Chinese companies face unfair treatment. In particular, the US is increasingly using "national security" as an excuse to suppress Chinese companies and restrict bilateral economic and trade exchanges and cooperation.

"If this is allowed to continue, it will cause more serious consequences," Qin said.

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When asked to comment on the US claim that China has not fully implemented the Phase One Trade Agreement, Qin said that China has always kept its promises in state-to-state relations.

Despite the serious difficulties brought by COVID-19 over the past year, China has "sincerely" and "steadily" implemented the Phase One Trade Agreement, including having taken "tangible" steps and made headway from intellectual property right protection, to expansion of agricultural imports from the US, to opening up the financial sector

Despite the serious difficulties brought by COVID-19 over the past year, China has "sincerely" and "steadily" implemented the agreement, including having taken "tangible" steps and made headway from intellectual property right protection, to expansion of agricultural imports from the US, to opening up the financial sector.

"In contrast, the US has set up multiple obstacles and restrictions on Chinese enterprises, and on our economic and trade exchanges and investment cooperation," Qin said.

"Whatever concerns that the two sides have can be put on the table for discussion, but the US side must take a pragmatic and sincere attitude."

On Thursday, the US Central Intelligence Agency said it has created a new group, the China Mission Center, to focus solely on a country that it regards as "the most important geopolitical threat in the 21st century".

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Qin said that while Biden noted in the recent presidential phone call that both sides must avoid miscommunication, miscalculation and unintended conflict, regarding China as "the most important geopolitical threat in the 21st century" is the most serious miscalculation.

"President Biden also stated in his remarks at the (United Nations) General Assembly that the US is not seeking a new Cold War. But shouldn't the Cold War playbook, travestied from 007 movies, be just left to Hollywood blockbusters?

"Some people in the US, immersed in their delusions that they are James Bond per se, simply can't resist the urge to act out their own play," Qin said.

"Haven't they been worn out by such meaningless and harmful actions? Why not give themselves a break?"