MMA club sheltering, training orphans forced to kick them out

A child watches grown-up fighters spar at the Enbo Fight Club in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Photo: CFP

The owner of a martial arts club that trains orphaned teenagers said he will not accept children from the impoverished Liangshan region any more, amid pressure from the local government and public accusations that he is “exploiting” the minors.

En Bo, a retired special police officer, founded the Enbo Fight Club in Chengdu, Sichuan Province in 1995 and later started to train orphans in mixed martial arts. The children receive training and accommodation for free, but have to fight in commercial bouts.

In late July the media reported on the club, putting En and the children under the spotlight. The club has “adopted” more than 400 such children who came voluntarily, mostly orphans or those from extremely poor families.

The children strictly follow a rigorous training routine every day, training hard to avoid being kicked off the team. Some even hope to find glory with the US-based Ultimate Fighting Championship in the future. “My idol is zuipao (Conor McGregor),” one of the young boxers told Jumian, a news video producer.

A lot of the children come from Liangshan, a mountainous Sichuan prefecture and one of the poorest regions of China. The large numbers of orphans and left-behind children who receive inadequate care has long been a problem in Liangshan, which is haunted by extreme poverty, drug addiction and HIV.

En said he first started to train children from Liangshan at the request of local civil affairs officials who asked him to allow the kids to join a cooperation project he was running with the government to train boxers.

As this project went well at first, more children began showing up, sent by their guardians or village officials. Besides martial arts, the club taught them classes like Chinese, mathematics and ethics.

However, after reports about the club went viral, the Liangshan education bureau said the children should receive a proper education. It has been reported that the bureau has sent personnel to collect some of the children and return them to their homes.

Children who spoke to the media said they want to continue training, as the meals they are given are better than their diet of potatoes back home.

En said he would not accept trainees from Liangshan again and has turned down two children from the region since the story went viral.

“I will recruit at least 100 children from my hometown before the Spring Festival. I will let them see,” he said.

Source: Global Times

Pay-as-you-go gym latest innovation in China’s sharing economy

Xiao Su, a workout fanatic, was surprised to find out that the nondescript booth he spotted on his way to the gym was also a gym.

“I downloaded the app for it out of curiosity. I have to pay 99 yuan ($14.86) deposit for registration with my ID number and phone number, and it charges me one yuan per five minutes,” Su told the Global Times Friday.

The booths only have enough space to hold two people at once – but only one of them can exercise as the gym’s sole piece of equipment is a treadmill.

The gym booth is also equipped with an air conditioner, a mini-television and fan.

“I prefer traditional gyms over this shared gym because they have more options for exercising and are much more spacious,” said Su.

“Moreover, you can wash after working out in traditional gym. Who’s willing to walk out all sweaty and smelly?” he added.

Value for money

The gym booth app, “Mipao,” only showed five booths available for users’ to make appointment in Beijing on Thursday. After users make an appointment, they can access the booth by scanning a code on its exterior, according to the description on the app’s iTunes download page.

The description explains that the application can record a user’s movement and offer workout guidance afterward to “create a brand new, healthy and smart way of exercise.”

China’s first shared gym popped up in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province in February, the Chengdu Business Daily reported.

Unlike the Beijing running box, the Chengdu shared gym offers exercisers both machines and free weights, said the local newspaper report.

“Many of my colleagues have started using shared gyms because we usually have to get a yearly card with normal gyms, but with this one, you only pay when you use the machine,” a Chengdu resident surnamed Tang, told the Global Times.

Tang said that he used to spend thousands of yuan on buying a yearly membership to a gym, but only worked out a few times a month. “I felt like most of the money

I spent on the gym was wasted, but I only spend about 10 yuan every time I use the shared gym.”

Smelly sleepers

The shared gym concept is creative and shows that Chinese entrepreneurs are innovating in the shared economy, Hu Xingdou, economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times.

He noted that the sharing economy concept originated in the West, but China has an unmatched variety of sharing start-ups.

Of the sharing start-ups, bike-sharing firms such as Mobike, Ofo and Bluegogo are the most popular.

Ofo has stepped up its efforts to break into foreign markets. Currently, Ofo is operating in 100 cities globally including in the US, the UK and Singapore, with a total of 5 million bicycles in use and 100 million registered users, according to a document the firm sent to the Global Times earlier this month.

Following the success of the bike companies, other start-ups have thrown their hat into the ring, offering shared portable batteries and umbrellas.

In 2016, about 60 million individuals participated in the sharing economy in China, up 20 percent from the previous year, according a February report from the State Information Center’s Sharing Economy Research Center.

Hu said that the emerging shared economy needs government supervision and attentive management by entrepreneurs as “some parts of the sharing economy are chaotic.”

Beijing police forced a shared-bed start-up to cease operations in July shortly after it opened, China Central Television (CCTV) reported, without citing an official reason for the police action.

However, critics of the shared beds had expressed safety and hygiene concerns. “It was smelly inside and you could hear sounds from next door,” a user named Xiao Li was quoted by CCTV as saying. He also said that he paid 12 yuan for just half an hour, “which is a little pricey.”

Hu warned that people’s bad behavior poses a threat to the sharing economy.

Many shared bikes have been broken, stolen by people who use their own locks on the bike or parked in inappropriate locations.

A man in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, was sentenced to three years in prison in May for throwing a shared bike from a bridge to “vent his anger,” New Express reported.

Source: Global Times

Music loving cow goes viral

A cow recently became a hit online after it was seen enjoying piano music during the Huanglong Music Season in Zhangjiajie, central China’s Hunan province.

The cow has since become an object of much curiosity at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and even receives a monthly allowance, Chinanews.com reported.

A video from International Piano Art Week section of the event shows the cow standing close to a visiting piano player under the trees, listening attentively to the music.

The cow’s response to piano music became an instant celebrity, with many visitors rushing to take photos with it.

Meanwhile, Zhangjiajie authorities have decided to award the now famous cow a monthly allowance of 1,200 yuan ($180) and its owner 1,000 yuan ($150). The cow is likely to be listed as a scenic spot near the Huanglong Cave.

Transatlantic alliance announced

A transatlantic alliance between three global airlines will shore up their positions in the lucrative UK-US market, shielding them from low-cost rivals and the uncertainties of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic have announced plans for a 15-year partnership on routes between Europe and the US as well as equity deals which will see them take stakes in each other.

The joint venture will see the three carriers share their profits on transatlantic routes.

It will give Air France-KLM greater access to the UK-US market – a market among the most profitable – while the Franco-Dutch group’s short-haul European flights could bring more customers to Virgin’s US-bound flights from London.

The ability to offer customers a host of extra flights could give US carrier Delta an edge against domestic rivals, including American Airlines and United Airlines.

The new alliance also provides each partner with an upper hand in the business travelers market ahead of Brexit, should the UK’s EU departure lead to a consequent drop in air traffic from London.

Global banks have already said they could move thousands of jobs out of the UK to prepare for Brexit, while two major EU regulators are seeking new homes.

“This is a play on Delta’s part to protect itself as Brexit unwinds, should London lose traffic,” said Atmosphere Research Group analyst Henry Harteveldt.

The partnership, expected to come into effect in 2018, will also strengthen the three big players’ positions at a time when low-cost entrants Norwegian Air Shuttle and Wow Air are shaking up the US-Europe market – though their share of flights remains small at present.

It will also allow for better use of the three airlines’ London Heathrow slots, analysts said, allowing them to free up extra short-haul capacity and instead move it to long-haul routes.

‘Skin in the game’

The partnership, which is subject to regulatory approval, will combine two existing and overlapping transatlantic joint ventures supported by equity deals worth $1 billion.

Willie Walsh, CEO of rival airline group IAG, said Air France-KLM’s investment in Virgin Atlantic – of which it plans to take a 31 percent stake – could give it a bigger say in how the UK’s aviation landscape will look post-Brexit.

“It probably represents a positive in terms of Air France’s position in what the rules should be after Brexit… they have skin in the game,” he told analysts.

Most of the transatlantic market is controlled by joint ventures between global airline heavyweights.

The new alliance will hold about a 27 percent share of the total transatlantic flights in comparison to the 24 and 22 percent shares for the other two rival groupings.

Walsh declined to comment on what the impact could be on IAG’s own transatlantic partnership with American Airlines. He did say, however, that he will remain positive on the future of the transatlantic market, despite the recent increased competition.

It is not known which ownership rules will apply after Brexit and whether the UK will remain part of the single European aviation market or the EU-US Open Skies pact. As such, analysts expect carriers to look for creative solutions.

Air France-KLM said that it had agreed on an insurance plan for ownership of Virgin Atlantic, which would see Virgin Group, whose stake is due to drop to 20 percent, regain a majority share should the carrier need to be fully UK-owned after Brexit.

“In terms of influence in the important Heathrow and North Atlantic market, this ticks all the boxes, and with Richard Branson [founder of Virgin Group] moving to a minority position, it will potentially allow a realignment of usage of Virgin’s Heathrow slot portfolio,” consultant John Strickland said.

Source: Reuters-Global Times

The ‘painful winter’ is over for the yuan

Analysts on Thursday declared that a painful winter for the exchange rate of the yuan against the US dollar has passed as improving fundamentals and a weakening dollar propelled the Chinese currency in an upward motion over the past few months.

With the yuan increasingly firm against the greenback, earlier market expectations for persistent yuan depreciation have been reversed and a consensus is in the making that the yuan will continue to stabilize, analysts said.

On Thursday, currency traders responded decisively after the People’s Bank of China set the central parity for trading at the strongest level in ten and half months, lifting the yuan both in onshore and offshore trading.

The Chinese central bank set the central parity rate at 6.6770 to the dollar prior to market opening, the strongest level since September 29, 2016. The yuan is allowed to fluctuate within 2 percent above or below the central parity rate.

Following the stronger official guide, the exchange rate for onshore yuan trading gained 166 bips from Wednesday’s closing to close at 6.6610 per dollar on Thursday, the firmest level since August 25, 2016, according to financial website wallstreetcn.com.

In the offshore market, the yuan was trading at 6.6699 per dollar at 10:00 pm Beijing time on Thursday, strengthening 0.32 percent from the previous day’s closing, according to financial information provider Marketwatch.

Thursday’s gain adds to a months-long surge of the yuan against the dollar. The Chinese currency has gained 4 percent against the dollar so far this year, according a report on domestic financial news site eastmoney.com on Thursday.

That led analysts to declare that the yuan has moved past its dark days.

Chen Shi, head of International Research at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, wrote in a note: “The yuan’s exchange rate has got out of the painful, cold winter and will return to a long-term trajectory of stable movement.”

In the note that was sent to the Global Times on Thursday, Chen wrote that expectations for a stabilizing yuan are replacing expectations of depreciation as a market consensus.

Liu Dongliang, a senior analyst at China Merchants Bank, echoed that sentiment in a separate note sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

“There is no more market basis for persistent yuan depreciation and the phase of heavy depreciating pressure on the yuan’s exchange rate is over,” Liu said.

Improving conditions

The two analysts attribute the yuan’s recent surge to improving conditions for the Chinese currency amid better-than-expected economic growth, a rise in foreign exchange reserves and a weakening dollar.

The Chinese economy grew 6.9 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2017, 0.2 percentage point faster than the pace in the same period last year and well above the 6.5 percent growth rate target set by the Chinese government for the whole year.

On top of that, China’s foreign exchange reserves expanded for a sixth straight month in July to $3.08 trillion, increasing 0.8 percent from June, according to official data released on Monday.

“The improving fundamentals for the yuan and market expectations consolidated the foundation for the long-term stability of the yuan’s exchange rate,” Chen wrote.

The downward trend of the dollar’s exchange in the first half, due mainly to the fall of “Trump trade” (a surge in US stocks, Treasury yields and the dollar after Donald Trump won the US presidential election) and better-than-expected economic performance in Europe and Japan, also lifted up the yuan, Liu said.

Since January, the dollar has lost more than 11 percent against the euro and 6 percent against the Japanese yen, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Overall, the greenback fell 8 percent against a basket of major currencies, according to the report.

However, there is market expectation that the dollar would bounce back in the coming months and the yuan might fluctuate frequently but won’t return to days of stagnation, Liu said, noting the yuan’s exchange rate will fluctuate between 6.6 and 6.9 to the dollar for the remainder of the year.

With the yuan’s firm position against the dollar, tight control of cross-border capital flows might be eased up and the focus will be put back on deepening financial market openness and supporting the real economy, Chen said.

Source: Global Times

 

Trump wrong to link Sino-US ties to North Korea

US President Donald Trump challenged Beijing’s “one China” policy before taking office, but shifted his attitude and said he had “great chemistry” with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping after they first met at the Mar-a Lago resort in Florida in April. But the honeymoon was overshadowed four months later by White House discussions over trade measures against China. The Sino-US relationship has been witnessing ups and downs during Trump’s first half year in office.

Many factors are shaping Washington’s China policy, but it’s worth particular attention that Trump always ties his Beijing policy to the Pyongyang nuclear issue, a disappointing choice.

Frankly speaking, the North Korean nuclear issue is one of the most difficult conundrums for the international community. Trump requires Beijing to address the issue and bases the extensive, sophisticated and multi-layered Sino-US relationship on the nuclear crisis.

It seems the White House would rather jeopardize the entire Sino-US relationship if China doesn’t act as Trump wishes in thwarting North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

This is a terrible strategy. Trump’s remarks and behaviors have been constantly rocking the Beijing-Washington relationship since Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in July, and sadly, there is no sign that Trump will change this strategy.

Earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused China of being North Korea’s “principal economic enabler” and it’s reported by US media that it is crafting a set of measures, including economic sanctions and restrictions, to further press China to rein in its northern neighbor’s escalating nuclear threat. This undoubtedly will put the Sino-US relationship at risk.

In addition, under “America First” slogan, Trump puts “the interests of the American people and American security above all else.” The “America First” policy will certainly affect China’s economic interests in the era of globalization. There is little likelihood that Trump’s foreign policy would shift away from this slogan. Trump had said earlier that it “will be the foundation of every decision” he would make.

In the meantime, Trump stresses “peace through strength,” compared with his predecessor Barack Obama’s “soft power” approach. There is no suspense that he will, sooner or later, take a tough stance on China, no matter in the form of an arms race or in geopolitical strategy.

Signs have already emerged. Trump reportedly has approved a plan giving the country’s navy greater freedom in operating in the South China Sea. He commissioned America’s newest and largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, in Virginia last month. The Pentagon is sparing no effort in instigating South Korea to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system which will pose a serious threat to China’s strategic security. Given the above, fluctuations in the Sino-US relationship are inevitable in Trump’s era.

But Beijing has resources and leverage to handle its ties with Washington. So far, the Chinese government has been patient with Trump, and expects to reach a consensus with the US in bilateral ties. Earlier, Beijing called for building a new type of major power relations featuring win-win cooperation, but the concept was not accepted by the Obama administration. Trump is unlikely to embrace the notion either. Even if the two countries agree on the new type of major power relations, China-US strategic rivalry and economic differences remain profound.

Beijing needs to stay patient with the Trump administration, and at the same time should show its determination in safeguarding China’s interests. Trump is good at bluffing, but he is just a paper tiger. Trump backed down from his confrontational stance over Beijing, committing to the “One China” policy in front of China’s unyielding insistence. His attempts to militarily deter North Korea in fact are aimed at pressuring China to do more over the issue. If he goes too far, China should show a firm opposition and even take retaliatory measures to sober him up. We have to respond firmly, otherwise, he will be always taken as a real tiger.

Source: Global Times

China sends first hack-proof code from space

China’s quantum communication ground station in Lijiang, Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Photo: Courtesy of the University of Science and Technology of China

Chinese scientists have sent a hack-proof code from a satellite to the Earth, becoming the first in the world to realize quantum key distribution (QKD) from space to the ground.

The achievement, based on experiments conducted with the world’s first quantum satellite, Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), was published in the authoritative academic journal Nature on Thursday.

The Nature reviewers commented that the experiment was an impressive achievement, and constituted a milestone in the field.

Nicknamed “Micius,” after a 5th Century BC Chinese philosopher and scientist who has been credited as the first person ever to conduct optical experiments, the 600-kilogram-plus satellite was sent into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers on August 16, 2016.

“We are very pleased with the achievements as we had originally scheduled to complete them in two years rather than only one,” Pan Jianwei, lead scientist of QUESS and a Chinese Academy of Sciences academician, was quoted as saying by China Central Television (CCTV).

An assistant researcher on Pan’s team, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Thursday that the technology will not be exclusively used in the fields of national defense and finance.

However, as the cost of quantum communication is still high, and due to the nature of areas like national defense where confidentiality is crucial, the application of the technology in these areas may come before other fields, the researcher said.

The satellite sent quantum keys to ground stations in Xinglong, in North China’s Hebei Province, and Nanshan, near Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The communication distance between the satellite and the ground station varies from 645 kilometers to 1,200 kilometers, and the quantum key transmission rate from the satellite to ground is up to 20 orders of magnitude more efficient than that expected using an optical fiber of the same length, Pan said.

When the satellite flies over China, it provides an experiment window of about 10 minutes. During that time, the 300 Kbit secure key can be generated and sent by the satellite, he said.

“That, for instance, can meet the demand of making an absolutely safe phone call or transmitting a large amount of bank data,” Pan said.

In an e-mail sent to the Global Times on Thursday, Pan’s team from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) wrote that in the QKD, the information is encoded so that any eavesdropper on the quantum channel that attempts to gain information about the key will inevitably introduce disturbances in the system, and this will be detected by the communicating users.

Commercial applications

“Satellite-based quantum key distribution can be linked to metropolitan quantum networks where fibers are sufficient and it is convenient to connect numerous users within a city over 100 kilometers. We can thus envision a space-ground integrated quantum network, enabling quantum cryptography – most likely the first commercial application of quantum information, which is useful at the global scale,” Pan said.

The establishment of a reliable and efficient space-to-ground link for faithful quantum state transmission paves the way for global-scale quantum networks, he added.

Theoretically, quantum communication using QKD is unbreakable, which has been proved mathematically and in physics, the assistant researcher explained.

Pan also revealed that Chinese scientists will work with their counterparts from European countries, including those from Italy and Germany, to explore the possibility of inter-continental QKD.

“We have begun to do the satellite-to-ground quantum key distribution between the Micius satellite and an Austrian ground station, and we will finish the tests this month,” read the e-mail.

Apart from the research experiments, the practicality and application of the technology is another focus for the Chinese scientists.

“Talks have been held between the research team and potential buyers of the technology. We are trying to realize the use of QKD in mobile targets such as ships at sea and foreign-based institutes,” Pan told CCTV.

Pan also noted that to enhance practicality, just like the Beidou (China’s GPS system) satellites, there should be a constellation of such satellites to build a global hack-proof communications network.

“We plan to launch satellites to higher orbits and construct a satellite constellation. We’ve begun to develop new techniques to increase the link efficiency, including larger-size telescopes, better acquiring, pointing, and tracking systems, and wave-front correction through adaptive optics,” read the e-mail.

Source: Global Times

 

N.Korea, US should not jeopardize peace efforts

North Korea’s plan to launch a missile strike on Guam could force the US to abandon negotiations, but the two sides should avoid further provocations which would threaten hopes for a peaceful solution in the Korean Peninsula, said experts.

“The Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through the simultaneous firing of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic missiles in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the US,” said a statement released by General Kim Rak-gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the KPA, on Wednesday, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

“The Hwasong-12 missiles to be launched by the KPA will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi Prefectures of Japan. They will fly 3,356.7 kilometers for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam,” the agency added.

Guam is an unincorporated US territory in the Western Pacific Ocean, more than 3,000 kilometers to the southeast of North Korea, and has a US Navy installation equipped with a submarine squadron, a Coast Guard group and an air base.

North Korea’s Hwasong missiles have the ability to reach Guam if the US and its allies do nothing. But in combat, the US and its allies would destroy its missiles before their launch, Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times.

This photo taken on Wednesday and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday shows a rally in support of North Korea’s stance against the US in Kim Il-sung square in Pyongyang. Photo: AFP

“Hwasong missiles need a lengthy preparation time, including pumping liquid fuel and entering launch position. So in this period, a US spy satellite would be able to locate it and be destroyed by an air strike,” Song said.

The US is not intimidated by North Korea’s plan. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the US,” Trump said. “They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Guam governor Eddie Calvo said, “there was some concern among the public on Guam but no panic, and the authorities were ‘very confident’ that there was no heightened threat,” Reuters reported.

Raising tensions

It doesn’t matter how long North Korean missiles can fly or how accurate they are. The point is North Korea’s plan does not help negotiations and peace, Lü Chao, a Korea expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“North Korea’s tough message can only undermine hopes for a peaceful solution. Those making efforts to restart negotiations, whether from the US or other countries, will be very disappointed. In other words, Pyongyang gives hardliners in the US an excuse to push for a military solution to the crisis,” Lü said.

The fact is joint US-South Korea drills cannot intimidate North Korea from further provocation, and North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests also cannot force the US to restart negotiations, so both Washington and Pyongyang are wasting time and money, and it would be better for them not to risk regional stability, Lü stressed.

North Korea makes such provocations because it believes countries in this region, including China and Russia, are afraid of military conflict, and they will try their best to protect North Korea from the US, so Pyongyang can provoke the US and ruin regional stability as much as it wants, said Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University.

“It’s time to tell North Korea that China doesn’t want war in the peninsula, but we are not afraid of war if anyone sparks the conflict and we are capable of controlling the situation. But North Korea will face serious destruction. Therefore, for its own good, North Korea should stop making trouble for the region,” Zheng said.

Source: Global Times

MEP urges monitoring of nuclear facilities after Sichuan earthquake

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has asked local nuclear and radiation safety monitoring stations in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province to closely monitor the situation and avoid a secondary disaster caused by an impact on the local nuclear facilities, after a strong earthquake hit Jiuzhaigou county in Sichuan.

The MEP said on Wednesday that currently the safety of the nuclear equipment in the area is under control and no damages have been reported. Moreover, the environmental radiation monitoring results are normal.

The death toll from Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan has risen to 20, with 431 injured as of press time.

Among the injured in the earthquake, 18 are in serious condition, according to the provincial government. Seventeen of the seriously injured have been transferred to the cities of Chengdu and Mianyan for treatment.

More than 50,000 tourists, including 126 foreigners, were evacuated following the earthquake, local authorities said Thursday morning.

Rescue workers found 16 people trapped at a scenic spot called Panda Sea in Jiuzhaigou. Ten firefighters were dispatched to rescue them Thursday morning and the result of their efforts is not available as of press time.

Power supplies to the 17 towns in Jiuzhaigou county have been restored. Traffic on a major highway linking Jiuzhai-Huanglong Airport to the county resumed on Thursday.

Jiuzhaigou is a popular tourist destination in the mountains on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is part of the Aba prefecture and is known for ethnic minority communities and stunning scenery.

Source: Xinhua-Global Times

US attempt to mix trade, political goals will accomplish neither

Negative news about Sino-US trade ties has appeared frequently recently.

A recent report from Politico, citing two anonymous officials, said that the US was mulling various economic measures against China, including trade restrictions and economic sanctions. Shortly after, media reported that US President Donald Trump was considering invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which would empower his administration to launch an investigation into alleged Chinese violation of intellectual property rights and forced technology transfer, but the plan was postponed at the last minute.

In the meantime, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued an article named “Free Trade is a Two-Way Street” in The Wall Street Journal, blasting China and Europe as “protectionists dressed in free market clothing.” He also stated that the Trump administration “will use every available tool to counter the protectionism of those who pledge allegiance to free trade while violating its core principles.”

Taking a close look at the background of the recent speculation surrounding US trade action against China, it is not hard to discern the logic behind the US re-politicalization of trade issues. Earlier this year, the US government expressed willingness to offer trade “concessions” to China in exchange for China’s help in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program, highlighting its geopolitical priority over trade policy. The core of the Korean Peninsula issue is the conflict between the US and North Korea. By chattering about and overstating the so-called “China responsibility theory,” the US appears to have gone to the extreme of politicalizing trade and economic issues. Yet, it is dangerous to involve political factors in Sino-US economic and trade relations, which will not help the US achieve either political or trade goals.

However, while accusing other countries of trade protectionism, the US refused to sign the anti-protectionist commitment in the G20 finance ministers’ communique in March this year, forcing the G20 joint trade commitment to go backward from resisting “all forms of protectionism” to “working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies.” It has used trade protection measures, subsidies, discriminatory measures and other unfair trade measures in its own trade practices. Take agricultural products as an example. The highest tariff China currently imposes on imports of agricultural products is 65 percent, while US tariffs on such imports could be as high as 350 percent. The US also offered subsidies to multinational companies by various means. Boeing, Ford Motor, General Electric, General Motors and JPMorgan Chase rank among the top recipients of government subsidies, according to media reports.

It is even more disturbing to see that the US might conduct an investigation into whether steel imports pose a threat to US national security under the rarely used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. It is clearly an abuse of the WTO’s national security exception for the purpose of protecting some outdated and low-efficiency industries in the US. The potential action, combined with the strengthened “security review” over investment projects in the country, has pointed to the US trend and “toolbox” of unilateral policy against its trade rivals, posing a serious threat to world trade.

It must be pointed out that unilateralism does not work on the path of free trade. The best consequence unilateralism could achieve is nothing but loss for both sides. China and the US should stick to the basic position of win-win cooperation, adhere to the basic way of resolving problems through consultation, and maintain smooth communication in major economic policies so as to ensure that the development of Sino-US economic and trade relations won’t be derailed. That’s the right two-way path.

Source: Global Times