While US talk of a trade war was being condemned by the EU and Canada, President Donald Trump returned to Twitter on Wednesday to demand that China reduce the current trade deficit between the two countries. "China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States," he tweeted, while noting "our relationship with China has been a very good one." Later he sent another tweet saying "The U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft. We cannot allow this to happen as it has for many years" without naming China.
US trade protectionism has become the No.1 hot spot in the world, even stealing the thunder of the North Korean nuclear crisis. The US may be the first country to have clamored for war against the entire world, although the battlefield is the economy.
January's US trade deficit with China and the rest of the world continued to expand. Trump is worried.
But his anxiety is useless. The natural law of economics cannot be reset at his whim.
It is also not up to the Chinese government to decide which Chinese company can export its products to the US and which cannot.
Be it the Chinese government, Chinese economic circles or Chinese public opinion, no one believes that the larger the China trade surplus, the better the Chinese economy. They all think that seeking a trade balance while keeping a proper surplus conforms more to China's interests.
Trump demanded China come up with a plan to reduce its surplus. China cannot do it alone and the US should coordinate with Beijing in expanding China's procurement in the US while decreasing restrictions on the export of high-tech products to China.
High technology is the US advantage. But Washington worries China will master its technologies and then boost its own manufacturing. The US therefore often tries to sell cheap goods to China, which are, however, little appreciated.
After all, Trump cannot expect the Communist Party of China to mobilize all members and their families to eat US beef, US soybean oil or use American cosmetics.
China should face trade friction with the US in a calm manner. Meanwhile, it must retaliate against US tariffs that forcibly interfere with Sino-US trade and violate World Trade Organization rules. China must show it won't be bullied.
Beijing must never consider stabilizing relations with Washington by compromising on trade. We would only become increasingly passive. China and the US must resolve the issue through cooperation and both sides should try.
If the US cannot adjust its own industrial structure to reduce its trade deficit and orders the world to follow its words, China and the rest of the world will have no choice but to meet the challenge head-on.