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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives an Exclusive Interview to Dagens Industri Chief Editor Arvid Åhlund

On 3 July, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an exclusive interview to Dagens Industri Chief Editor Åhlund during Almedalen Week in Gotland. The full text is as following:

Q: Since the beginning of the 2019 G20 Osaka Summit, the China-US trade war has seen a truce, and the US side said it would not impose new tariffs on Chinese exports. But at present, given that the conditions did not really change, why can we expect positive progress in the resumed China-US trade talks?

Ambassador Gui: First of all, China is firmly opposed to the trade war. The US unilaterally launched trade war against the world’s major economies, including China, which damages the interests of others and itself. Our position has always been that the door to negotiation is open and we are willing to continue consultations with the US. But if the US insists on fighting a trade war, we will fight to the end. On the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka, President Trump proposed to meet with President Xi Jinping during the summit. The two presidents reached an important agreement that the trade consultations should be resumed on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and the US will no longer impose new tariffs on Chinese exports.

Q: The Chinese official version is that the trade war was initiated unilaterally by President Trump. However, Trump said that China’s exports to the US are five times that of US exports to China, and the terms of trade between the two countries have long been unequal. Is this true? Is Trump right?

Ambassador Gui: The China-US economic and trade cooperation, in essence, is mutual beneficial and win-win, and is based on market. China-US economic and trade cooperation is mutually complementary. What American importers buy from China and what Chinese exporters sell to the US is entirely independent market behavior by the companies. The Chinese government cannot violate market principles by instructing Chinese companies to refuse to import products from US exporters, or instructing Chinese exporters not to sell goods to the United States. If President Trump believes that China has a surplus because the United States does not sell enough to China, then please create conditions for US companies to sell more to China.

Q: The China-US trade war took place in a broader backdrop. Before the trade war, the Trump administration already listed China as a strategic competitor, marking a major change in the US policy toward China. The US congress is more hawkish toward China, and the American business community is also on board. The United States even threatened to impose 25% tariff on all Chinese exports to the United States. China’s official media, China Daily, said in an article that the United States is not just after trade, but its real purpose is to contain China’s development in all its aspects. What do you think about this?

Ambassador Gui: When we look at international relations, a basic principle is that the cold war is over and that state-to-state relations should no longer be zero-sum games. China is committed to an open policy of win-win cooperation. The Chinese side is willing to develop friendly and cooperative relations with all countries in the world and better achieve common development through cooperation. China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion, accounting for one-fifth of the world’s total population. The world cannot achieve good development without the good development of China. We are firmly committed to peaceful development and do not regard any country as a strategic competitor. The fact that some people in the US define China as a strategic competitor is a manifestation of their Cold War mentality. Trying to achieve one’s own development by limiting the development of other countries will not work. The only way to solve the problems existing in China-US trade relations is to have dialogue and consultation to achieve win-win cooperation. The consultations must be equal-footed and reasonably address the concerns of both parties, instead of only addressing the concerns of the US. It should not only be a win for the United States, but win-win outcomes for both sides, and it needs to bring benefits to other countries of the world.

Q: What Mr. Ambassador said that makes sense. In the China-US trade consultations, where is China’s red line? What clauses are absolutely unacceptable to China?

Ambassador Gui: China-US trade consultations must be based on equality and mutual respect, achieve win-win outcomes for both China and the United States, and bring benefits to the rest of the world. China will never accept any terms that undermine its core interests and national dignity.

Q: The China-US trade war has been going on for some time and may continue. In this context, what does China-EU trade relationship mean to China? Will Europe be more important to China?

Ambassador Gui: The EU is an important pole in the world and the largest economy in the world. The EU has been important and will be more important to China. Regardless of the results of the China-US trade consultations, China will unswervingly support a stronger and more united EU, and unswervingly commit itself to developing mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation with the EU and its member states. As far as trade is concerned, we welcome European countries including Sweden to export more high-quality products to China, meet the need of China’s economic and social development, and meet the need of the Chinese people to improve their living standards. In order to expand imports from all over the world, under the initiative of President Xi Jinping, China successfully hosted the world’s first International Import Expo in Shanghai last November. In November this year, we will hold the 2nd China International Import Expo. We welcome entrepreneurs from all over the world who are interested in exploring the Chinese market to participate in this event, bring their best products, and present them to the Chinese consumers and market. Since 2017, Sweden has maintained a trade surplus with China. We welcome the Swedish side to expand its trade surplus with China. No matter how big Sweden’s trade surplus with China is, we will not fight a trade war with Sweden like the United States.

Q: The EU Commission issued a document on China in March this year, which said that China is no longer a developing country and has become a systemic rival. It said the human rights situation in China has deteriorated, and human rights violations have occurred in places such as Xinjiang, with foreign citizens including Swedish citizens imprisoned. It also said the Chinese Government subsidizes domestic enterprises, and foreign companies are treated unfairly in China. The description in the above-mentioned document in the EU is very similar to the United States’ attitude to China.

Ambassador Gui: China is still the largest developing country in the world. China’s per capita GDP is less than 10,000 US dollars, less than one-fifth of that of Sweden. China’s economic development is still uneven, with the coastal areas in its southeast relatively more developed, and the vast central and western regions less developed. In the fields of space technology, artificial intelligence and 5G, China has already caught up with other countries in the world, but in industries and fields such as manufacturing and agriculture, we are still significantly lagging behind developed countries. It is unfair to use the indicators and standards of Western developed countries to measure China’s developed regions and conclude that China is no longer a developing country. Regarding human rights issues, it is important to pay more attention to the rights to survival, development and other rights of nearly 1.4 billion people in China, instead of focusing on the so-called “human rights” of one or two individuals.

Q: Is it fair that China treats Chinese and Western companies differently? Can Western governments also treat their companies and Chinese companies differently and limit the development of Chinese companies like the Chinese government does? Huawei is the focus of discussion. Many European governments do not allow their companies to use Huawei’s 5G technology. The outside world’s view on Chinese investment is different from a few years ago.

Ambassador Gui: The degree of openness of the Chinese economy is commensurate with the degree of development and maturity of the Chinese economy. I suggest that Swedish friends pay attention to the important speech delivered by President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Osaka and the important speech delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the Summer Davos Forum. In accordance with the maturity of its own economy, the Chinese side has rolled out a series of new measures for opening up, moving from the opening-up based on the flow of goods and factors of production to opening-up based on rules and institutions. China’s agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and service industries will also be open to the world.

Ambassador Gui: Citizens in Hong Kong of China enjoy full rights to assembly and demonstration. But a small number of extremists violently stormed the Hong Kong Legislative Council and vandalized the facilities, which is not allowed in any country.

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