What Chinese Media Say about the Trade War with US
By admin October 10, 2018

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A bitter trade war is looming between China and the US.

The US has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese goods. From July to August this year, the US imposed 25 percent tariff on a total of $50 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated proportionally. On September 24, a new round of tariffs, ranging from 10 to 25 percent, on USD 200 billion of Chinese imports went into effect. China responded with tariffs from 5 to 10 percent on USD 60 billion of US imports. There are plentiful analyses about the spillover effect that the trade dispute may have on the US domestic economy and politics. Taking a different perspective and looking at how Chinese media, especially those media that represent the Chinese government, characterize the situation may give us more insight about the issue.

By examining the news and press releases on Xinhua Net, People’s Daily, and CRI Online (all of them are state-controlled media), we identified some key messages:

Criticizing against the Protectionism

Protectionism is the most frequently used words in articles about the US-China trade war on the above-mentioned media. For example, an opinion piece from Xinhua Net criticizes the US for imposing tariff without legitimate justifications, which will result in lasting damage to the global trade order. It refutes the statement that the US should punish China for the unfair advantage it obtained, by arguing that the US trade deficit with China is a natural byproduct of current international division of labor and the economic structures of both economies. It also described the Section 301 Investigation on China’s Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property as a distortion of fact. Some other articles accuse the US of violating the current WTO rules which have been fundamental to the global trade order.

Characterizing the Trade War as a No-win Game

Besides the criticism against protectionism, the state-controlled media also analyze the potential loss facing the US if the trade war escalates. They contend that since a large amount of affected Chinese imports are part of the global manufacturing chain of US companies, such as Apple and Boeing, slapping high tariffs on China will ultimately hurt the interest of the US companies. An article by the People’s Daily stressed the importance of the trade and cooperation between US and China as it benefits both countries by creating huge market opportunities and many new jobs. Creating barriers for such a reciprocal relationship is therefore an unwise move.

Expressing Confidence in the Domestic Economy

Another common theme in Chinese media when talking about the trade war is an optimistic outlook. The International Monetary Fund has lowered its growth forecasts for the US and China, reflecting the negative impact of the ongoing trade war on these two economies. At a time when the Chinese economy is experiencing a slowdown, boosting domestic consumer confidence is a crucial task for Chinese state-controlled media. Many articles on the People’s Daily write about how China’s retaliation effectively target the farm belt in the US, where strong supporters for Trump concentrate.



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