Relations between Beijing and Washington deteriorated in late May when US President Donald Trump announced that $50 billion worth of Chinese goods would be subject to 25 percent tariffs in a bid to fix the US trade deficit with China. Since then, the two countries have exchanged several rounds of hefty trade duties.
If China fails to “fundamentally change its behaviour”, it will face all-out cold war with Washington and its partners, US Vice President Mike Pence told The Washington Post. The remarks came ahead of the upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a Group of 20 summit slated for November 30.
“Trump is leaving the door open for a deal with Xi Jinping in Argentina, but only if Beijing is willing to make massive changes that the United States is demanding in its economic, military and political activities. This is China’s best (if not last) chance to avoid a cold-war scenario with the United States,” Pence underscored.
He pledged to put more economic, diplomatic and political pressure on China if Beijing fails to make “significant and concrete concessions that address not just the trade deficit that we face”.
In this context, Pence singled out “rampant intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, restricted access to Chinese markets, respect for international rules and norms, efforts to limit freedom of navigation in international waters and Chinese Communist Party interference in the politics of Western countries.”
Unlike the US economy, that of China is “less durable” and is not “strong enough to weather such an escalation”, according to Pence.
“We really believe we are in a strong position either way. We are at $250 billion [in tariffs] now; we can more than double that. I don’t think it’s a matter of promises. We’re looking for results. We’re looking for a change of posture,” he pointed out.
“We are here to stay. Then so be it,” Pence said when asked what would happen if Beijing did not agree to act so that it could avoid a cold war with Washington.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized that despite the fact that the US is still “concerned” over China’s military policies and religious freedom in the country, Washington does not seek a new “cold war” with Beijing.
“The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with China. Rather, we want to ensure that China acts responsibly and fairly in support of security and prosperity in each of our two countries,” Pompeo said.
His remarks came amid the ongoing trade row between Beijing and Washington, which escalated in late May when US President Donald Trump announced that $50 billion worth of Chinese goods would be subject to 25 percent tariffs in order to resolve the US trade deficit with China.
Since then, Washington has already imposed $250 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports, to which Beijing has responded with $110 billion in retaliatory duties.