“The Americans have always been internationalists, but their internationalism has always been a by-product of their nationalism.” The remarks made by Robert Kagan, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, are more than appropriate to describe the reckless practices of some Americans.
By unilaterally provoking and constantly upgrading trade frictions with global countries, frequently withdrawing from international agreements and organizations, and continuing practicing protectionism and unilateralism, some US officials are maxing out their credibility in the international society and undermining the rule-based international order. What they did has placed huge negative impacts on global economic cooperation.
On August 1, the US announced that it would slap 10 percent tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods starting September 1, as if they had totally forgot their “constructive” description of the just-concluded 12th round of high-level economic and trade consultations between the US and China.
The announcement astonished the international society and caused serious harm to the global market. Some American officials even claimed that they didn’t care at all about the negative impacts on the stock market. It’s beyond imagination that how an influential major country can be so irresponsible.
The American society is making increasingly louder voices to oppose additional tariffs. Some said the added 10 percent tariff will strike the American consumers and families’ budget and American families should not be pawns in the trade war.
Others said that the new round of tariff increase is actually taking American families as hostages in trade negotiations. The new tariffs would raise costs on everything from computers to backpacks to clothes as kids go back to school.
Faced with the opposing voices from US congressmen, the public and industrial associations, Washington still argues that the impact on American consumers is very small and the US has produced models to prove it.
However, the problem is that the so-called proof is not comparable at all to how American people and consumers are actually feeling.
The responsibility of big countries is to provide the world with stability and certainty while creating conditions and opportunities for the common development of all countries. But some people in the United States do just the opposite.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently lowered its global economic growth forecast for the third time this year. In the World Economic Outlook released this July, the organization slashed expectations for growth in the global volume of trade to 2.5 percent, lower than its estimate in April.
The trade tensions caused by the US and the uncertainties in the country’s long-term policies have become a primary factor affecting market confidence and weakening the vitality of the global economy.
The IMF once predicted that global GDP growth would be cut by 0.5 percent by 2020 if all the threatened tariffs were implemented.
Today some in America are obsessed with American privilege to the point of destroying international rules and the international order. An observer commented that the US claimed to be at the steering wheel of the world economy, yet it could neither guide the economic development nor assume its responsibility.
On the contrary, the US was just being extremely irresponsible by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
No one can stand without credibility; no country can fit in without reputation. The irresponsible practice of some Americans is something that stems from their disdain for justice and disregard for faith, and these Americans need to wake up.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)