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Remedies Trump prescribes for trade problems harm U.S. veteran China expert
2018-05-07

Remedies the Trump administration is prescribing for U.S. trade problems won't work, and forays in trade disputes with China will harm the United States, a veteran China expert with decades of experience in bilateral relations said here on Saturday.

"I believe that Washington has misdiagnosed our trade problems, that its remedies for them won't work, and that what it is doing will harm the United States and other countries as much or more than it does China," said Chas Freeman, senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute, when addressing the annual conference of a prominent Chinese American group, the Committee of 100 (C100).

"The United States and China are each too globalized and dynamic to contain, too big and influential to ignore, and too successful and entangled with each other to divorce without bankrupting ourselves and all associated with us," Freeman, also former U.S. assistant secretary of defense, said in an opening keynote speech.

Pointing out that there are many reasons for the United States to seek cooperative relations with a rising China, Freeman added that the Trump administration has decided "to pick a fight -- to confront China both militarily and economically."

"The fact that we Americans consume more than we save means that we import more than we produce. That creates an overall trade deficit. Ironically, the Trump administration has just taken steps guaranteed to increase this deficit," he said.

"It has reduced tax revenues and boosted deficit spending, mostly on military research, development, and procurement. These actions take the national savings rate even lower while inflating domestic demand for goods and services. They cause imports to surge," he added.

"Increased American consumption born of an overstimulated economy explains why China's trade surplus with the United States is again rising even as its surplus with the rest of the world falls," he said.

"Unless Americans boost our national savings rate by hiking taxes or cut our consumption by falling into recession, our overall trade deficit is sure to bloat," he said.

His comments came amid trade tensions facing the world's two largest economies. Against such a backdrop, hundreds of scholars and prominent leaders in business and technology communities joined the two-day C100 annual conference to explore the pressing topics on China-U.S. trade relations, as well as the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in panel discussions.

Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and two former U.S. ambassadors to China -- Gary Locke and Max Baucus -- among others, are also expected to deliver keynote speeches, according to the agenda.

Themed "Silicon Valley: Bridge Between the United States and China," the conference, the premier forum on China-U.S. relations and the advancement of Chinese Americans, will also focus on technology entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence, and the role of Silicon Valley and Chinese Americans as a bridge between the two countries.

"We spend Saturday talking about and listening to ideas, because ideas excite us, (and) ideas are (so) profound that they will change the world and they will bring us together across the Pacific," said Frank Wu, president of C100.

The New York-based C100 is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, and arts.

Founded in 1990 by world renowned architect I.M. Pei and internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, among others, the group is committed to the twin missions of promoting full participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of American life, and encouraging constructive relations between the two peoples.

  

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