China outlined the dangers of a potential trade confrontation between China and the US on Friday, warning it would inflict great damage on one of the largest bilateral trade relationships in the world, hurting both economies.
“China-US cooperation is interdependent, confrontation would only hurt both sides,” Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told a press briefing in Beijing, adding that China is willing to further expand bilateral trade with the US. Shen’s comments came as concerns mount over a potential confrontational China-US trade relationship, sparked by the election and recent moves of trade-bashing US President-elect Donald Trump, including tapping a vocal China critic to oversee US trade policy. Trump nominated Peter Navarro to lead the newly created White House National Trade Council on Wednesday. Navarro, a rogue economist, has written several books critical of China and, as some media reports have pointed out, views China-US trade as a zero-sum game where the United States’ loss is China’s gain.
The appointment of Navarro as head of the trade council has added more fuel to concerns that China-US bilateral trade will suffer under a Trump administration, with the outside threat of a full-blown trade war.
But the MOFCOM spokesman expressed optimism about the future of China-US trade relations on Friday, saying it is too early at this point in time to predict whether or not China-US trade will continue to decline. “Trade complementarity between China and the US is strong, no matter how the US government changes, the mutually beneficial and complementary characteristics in China-US trade won’t change,” Shen said. In response to the nomination of Navarro, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also called for cooperation between the world’s two largest economies at a briefing.