China Shoots Back in Trump’s Trade War Escalation
A transcript of Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying’s remarks to reporters.
The U.S. trade war with China is ramping up again. In a series of tweets throughout the week, U.S. President Donald Trump accused the country failing to live up to promises to buy more American agricultural products, chided it for not stopping the flow of fentanyl to the United States, and poked fun at its slowing economy. Then, on Thursday, the president threatened to levy a new 10 percent tariff on $300 billion in Chinese goods starting in September. In the middle of it all, China shot back. In a press conference on Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, blamed the United States for the protests in Hong Kong, criticized it for flip-flopping in trade negotiations, and noted that “the Chinese economy grew by 6.2 percent in the second quarter this year, while for the U.S. the number is 2.1 percent.”
Q: According to media reports, [North Korea] launched two short-range ballistic missiles this morning. I wonder if you have any comment on that?
Hua Chunying: China noted the DPRK’s launching activity and the reaction of relevant sides. The political settlement process of the peninsula issue is at a critical stage. We hope all relevant parties can cherish the hard-won de-escalation, work for denuclearization on the peninsula, and achieve lasting peace on the peninsula and in the region.
Q: First question, a White House senior official said they heard rumors of Chinese troops gathering near the “boundary” between China’s mainland and Hong Kong. Regarding this issue, the U.S. government hopes China will not over-intervene. What is your comment?
Second question, in response to your comment on the remarks of certain high-level U.S. officials yesterday, the U.S. Department of State described such comment as “ludicrous” and said that the ongoing protests in Hong Kong is the call of local people in response to the erosion of autonomy. They did not accept the allegation that “foreign forces are behind those incidents,” saying it is impossible that millions of Hong Kong people have been manipulated by foreign forces in a free and open society. I wonder if you have any response?
HC: On your first question, I’m not aware of what you said. If the White House truly hopes for peace, stability, and prosperity in Hong Kong, they should advise those violent protesters and radicals to express their demands in a peaceful rather than violent way.
On your second question, do you find that ludicrous? I don’t think it ludicrous at all. Judging from many recent media reports, including those I mentioned yesterday, any unbiased person who doesn’t selectively turn a blind eye to the facts can see the truth clearly and make fair judgments. The U.S. indeed owes the world an honest and candid explanation. Of course, if it can prove and promise that it has not interfered in Hong Kong affairs and will not do so in the future, we most certainly welcome that.
There’s something more I want to say. As journalists, you may have your own perspectives. But all people, including journalists and officials, should tell right from wrong and have a fair judgment on whether those incidents are peaceful protests or radical, violent behaviors. Am I right?
Taking this opportunity, I’d like to say this to our friends from the press. When you report the recent developments in Hong Kong, besides taking pictures of the police, please do turn your lens to those radical and violent activities, too. By doing so you will provide the world with more objective and comprehensive scenes, based on which people will draw impartial, fair, and fact-based conclusions.
I believe the 1.4 billion Chinese people, including over 7 million Hong Kong residents, all hope for peace, stability, and prosperity in Hong Kong. What recently happened in Hong Kong saddens Hong Kong-lovers and gladdens its haters. I believe all those who truly love Hong Kong and China and all those with a sense of justice have realized that.
Q: You said yesterday that what happened recently in Hong Kong is the work of the U.S. and defined it as foreign interference. Will China take legal actions on it?
HC: Do you think I still have to present more evidence or proof? As I said earlier to the CNN journalist, we can see it clearly from the recent media reports. If the U.S. disagrees, it can just prove its innocence by listing facts and make clear promises that it has not interfered in Hong Kong affairs and will not do so in the future. We will most certainly welcome that. You may ask the U.S. side what actions it will take to prove its innocence and make such promises.
Q: First question, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism just released this information. In view of the current cross-strait relations, it decided to suspend the individual travel of residents of 47 mainland cities to Taiwan from Aug. 1. Taiwan media say this is related to [Taiwanese leader] Tsai Ing-wen’s recent transit in the U.S. and her blatant remarks on the recent protests in Hong Kong. What is your comment on that?
Second question, yesterday you said the Hong Kong-related article in [North Korean state newspaper] Rodong Sinmun is a voice of justice while criticizing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Hong Kong. Some in Hong Kong say this is double standards. Do you have any response to that?
Third question, the media just reported that the trade talks in Shanghai were very short. Does that signal an unsuccessful meeting? Besides, President Trump tweeted that China has been flip-flopping, and that if China wants to wait until he gets reelected next year, the deal they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now. What’s your comment?
HC: On your first question, Taiwan is part of China, and cross-strait affairs are not diplomatic matters. I’d refer you to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
On your second question, I don’t know which people in Hong Kong think my comments yesterday are double standards. What I said is objective. I make judgments and comments based on facts.
On your third question, I have seen relevant reports and Twitter. Hmm. How interesting.
We all know who has been flip-flopping in the trade talks over the past year or so. In contrast, China’s position remains consistent. The Chinese and American negotiating teams are now in Shanghai for trade talks. I’m not aware of the latest information you mentioned. It just doesn’t make any sense if the U.S. tries to exert maximum pressure at this particular time. In fact, it’s useless to ask others to take pills when the U.S. is ill itself. I believe the U.S. needs to show more sincerity and good faith on this issue.
Follow-up: First, why does the mainland decide to suspend individual trips to Taiwan at this time? Does it have anything to do with the China-U.S. trade talks? Second, the U.S. said it would possibly respond to American companies’ requests for supplying Huawei next week. Is China concerned that an unsuccessful round of talks today will affect cooperation between Huawei and American companies?
HC: On your first question, like I said, I would refer you to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
Regarding your second question, we noted a growing number of American companies recently said they want to supply Huawei. Also, Huawei said on many occasions that they are fully confident in their business. I’m confident, too. It’s the U.S., not China, that gets anxious and concerned now.
Q: First, according to reports, Canada said it will not decide whether Huawei can participate in its 5G network buildup until the general election ends in October. Do you think it will be too late?
Second, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of State said that the Chinese students have been influenced by Chinese social websites and media. Their incorrect understanding of the U.S. has impeded the bilateral exchange. He also expressed concerns on students being monitored by Chinese institutions overseas through student organizations. What’s your comment?
HC: Regarding your first question, as I recall, Mr. Ren Zhengfei [the founder of Huawei] once said that he is fully confident in Huawei. For those who don’t do business with Huawei, it’s a loss for themselves. It’s up to Canada to talk to Huawei about when they will conduct cooperation with Huawei, whether in October or some other time. But it’s never too late as long as the cooperation is open, mutually beneficial, and based on goodwill.
As for your second question, frankly speaking, when it comes to the understanding of another country, the U.S. is the one that has a shortfall.
Exchange of students is an important part of China-U.S. cultural and people-to-people exchange. It has effectively enhanced the communication and mutual understanding between the two peoples. However, due to reasons we all know, Chinese students have encountered various difficulties or unfair treatment during their visa application and studying in the U.S. Presidents of American universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Rice, said in public that Chinese and American universities should step up cooperation and exchange, and this is very important for China-U.S. relations.
We hope the U.S. will make positive efforts to ensure normal people-to-people exchange, including the exchange of students, and advance mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
Q: A question about the upcoming meeting between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo. Given that Mr. Pompeo recently made many comments on Hong Kong and the South China Sea, I wonder if you can tell us China’s comments for this meeting?
HC: We have on many occasions clearly and firmly stated our position on Hong Kong and the South China Sea. The U.S. knows it very well.
As for the bilateral meeting between State Councilor Wang Yi and Secretary Pompeo on the sidelines of the foreign ministers’ meetings on East Asia Cooperation, it’s indeed imperative for China and the U.S., as two major countries, to stay in communication and have candid discussions on important issues. We will release relevant information once we have it.
Q: Xinjiang officials yesterday said that most people who were in vocational education and training centers have left there and got employed. That statement draws skepticism. Can you give a clear number of how many people have left those centers?
HC: Yesterday the chief of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region gave a briefing at the press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council. I’m not aware of the specific number. But judging from what was described by many foreign diplomats and journalists who recently visited Xinjiang, you will know that the real Xinjiang is a lot different from what was depicted by certain Western media. If you are interested in paying a visit to Xinjiang, we would like to offer you assistance.
Q: According to Bloomberg, this round of China-U.S. talks only went on for a short period of time. Does that mean this round of talks broke up in discord?
HC: I’m not aware of the latest information and cannot comment on that. I believe there will soon be a formal press release. What really matters is that we cannot make progress in the trade talks without enough sincerity, good faith, and the spirit of equality and mutual respect from the U.S. side.
Q: U.S. President Trump tweeted yesterday that China has failed to buy more American agricultural products as promised. He also said that China’s economic performance is bad. China has lost 5 million jobs and 2 million manufacturing jobs due to U.S. tariffs. Does China have any response to this?
HC: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce responded to questions on China’s purchase of American agricultural products. I’m not aware of the specifics.
You said China’s economic performance is bad. But as you may know, China’s growth rate in the second quarter…
[BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT DUE TO TRANSLATION EQUIPMENT MALFUNCTION]
Is it good now? So you can see, malfunctions and accidents can happen any time. But if you take rapid actions to fix it, everything can soon be back to normal. I believe this works for China-U.S. relations and Hong Kong, too. But it takes in-time efforts, the sooner the better.
Get back to your question. The U.S. side said China’s economic performance is bad, but here is an obvious fact. The Chinese economy grew by 6.2 percent in the second quarter this year, while for the U.S. the number is 2.1 percent. Which one is better, 6.2 percent or 2.1 percent? I believe you all have a clear judgment.
During the trade consultations between the Chinese and U.S. sides, it is not constructive to blow smoke or exert maximum pressure. What’s important is that the two teams should have calm, sincere consultations and resolve differences and concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect. This is the only right way forward.
Q: We’ve seen a recent ban for individual travels to Taiwan. I wonder if you have any comment on that?
HC: Like I said, this is a cross-strait affair. I would refer you to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
This transcript is taken from the website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States.