China Politics

'The US has backtracked': China releases official document blaming America for the trade war

Key Points
  • China's much-anticipated white paper says global trade problems were started by the United States.
  • The document says the United States has been unreliable during talks and it claims that China wants mutually beneficial talks.
  • Several U.S. media outlets have reported that Beijing backed out from basically all negotiating points during talks with the United States several weeks ago.
Donald Trump during bilateral meetings in Beijing in late 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

BEIJING — China took a firm official stance against the United States on trade on Sunday, issuing a white paper that illustrates a widening gap between the two sides.

The paper argues that trade disruptions — which the document claims were launched by the United States — negatively affect the world. It claims that the United States is an untrustworthy negotiator and that the Chinese government wants talks that are equal, mutually beneficial and trustworthy.

U.S. media outlets have reported that Beijing backed out from basically all negotiating points during talks with the United States several weeks ago.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Wang Shouwen
Chinese vice commerce minister

At a press conference Sunday, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said U.S. actions in the past month are the primary reason for the lack of progress in negotiations.

"During the consultations, China has overcome many difficulties and put forward pragmatic solutions. However, the U.S. has backtracked, and when you give them an inch, they want a yard," Wang said.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would go up from 10% to 25%. The U.S. has also begun investigating whether $300 billion of other Chinese goods could be subject to tariffs. Finally, the U.S. put Chinese telecom giant Huawei on an list that essentially prevents it from conducting business with U.S. companies.

Wang would not confirm at a press conference Sunday whether Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping would meet at the G20 meeting at the end of June. Wang said only that China will send representatives to those coming meetings in Japan.

On Friday, China's Commerce Ministry announced it would create a list of what it calls "unreliable entities." State news agency Xinhua subsequently reported that China is investigating Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx. CNBC confirmed that the shipping giant diverted packages destined for Huawei addresses in Asia.

Wang would not elaborate on details about the unreliable entities list or its implementation, saying such details would be disclosed later.

Wang said Sunday that any foreign companies that act against Chinese law will be subject to Chinese investigations, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks.

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"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," Wang said in English, echoing language used by officials on talks between the United Kingdom and European Union over Brexit. He added that both sides need to take a step back and argued that the countries should adhere to the direction agreed upon at the meeting of Trump and Xi in Argentina late last year.

The White House said the U.S. agreed not raise tariffs if a deal with China was reached on its most serious complaints, including China's practice of forcing foreign companies to hand over their technology in exchange for access to China's domestic market — so-called forced technology transfers.

In March, China passed a foreign investment law which it claims will improve intellectual property protection and prevent forced technology transfer. The law is set to take effect next year. Beijing says it has taken steps to allow greater foreign access to its financial and auto industries.

Especially since the latest round of U.S. tariffs, however, Chinese officials have been more vocal in stating they believe that America's primary motive is to prevent China from growing stronger.

Increasingly, officials in Beijing talk of bracing for a dispute that will last decades.

—CNBC's Eunice Yoon contributed to this report.