Concerns of protectionism loom as China-US business leaders tout ties

Global Business

Concerns of protectionism loom as China-US business leaders tout ties

The China General Chamber of Commerce just hosted its annual Lunar New Year gala in New York to highlight the importance of business ties between the world’s two largest economies.

But, Washington’s protectionist policies are still taking the stage. CGTN’s Karina Huber reports.

A performance by The Peking Opera was the cultural highlight at the China General Chamber of Commerce’s Lunar New Year gala. The rest of the evening was focused on the China-U.S. relationship, one that some fear is under strain.

“There is a knowledge gap between United States and China. There is also a trust gap between the U.S. and China,” said Tung Chee-Hwa, vice chairman of the 12th CPPCC National Committee.

Tung acknowledged there are legitimate complaints on both sides and the two won’t always agree on issues.

“These grievances are serious and some may well be real. The question is how these grievances can be addressed so that the trade and the broader economic relationship as well as the broader U.S./China relationship can continue to advance,” he added.

If it doesn’t, the concern is that these grievances will escalate to a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Throughout his presidential campaign U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to be tough on trade but he hasn’t implemented any tariffs or quotas on imports yet. The worry among some is that he will in 2018.

Several U.S. investigations into trade practices will soon be coming to an end. Trump will be receiving assessments on the impact of steel and aluminum imports on national security. On Jan. 26, the U.S. faces a deadline on whether or not to impose trade barriers to protect U.S. solar panel manufacturers.

“The belief that protectionism will bring economic security is as false as the belief that nuclear weapons will bring better security for North Korea,” said Cui Tiankai, China’s Ambassador to the U.S..

Cui was one of the evening’s keynote speakers.

“Protectionist measures under political and national security excuses will only lead to distortions in the market, missed economic opportunities and a weakening of one’s own competitiveness,” said Cui. “So we have to reject such a trend.”

Stephen Schwarzman, the head of global investment firm Blackstone Group, won the award for Goodwill Ambassador for China/U.S. Exchange. He said the world is safer if the two countries have a strong relationship built on mutual respect.

“It’s my firm belief is that the relationship between the U.S, and China will define the 21st Century,” said Schwarzman.

He went on to encourage future leaders to study China not an elective course, but as core curriculum.