Davos WEF

The US picked the 'wrong time' for a trade war with China, Hong Kong businessman says

Key Points
  • The U.S. opened a trade conflict with China about two years ago, when it imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines. Since then, both sides have placed additional duties on each other's products at different occasions. 
  • "I think America picked the war to fight with China … at really the wrong time," said Hong Kong property developer Tan Sri Dato David Chiu, chairman of Far East Consortium International.
President Donald Trump arrives with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to sign "phase one" of the U.S.-China trade agreement in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 15, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

DAVOS, Switzerland — The United States has chosen the wrong decade to start a trade conflict with China, said a Hong Kong property developer at an informal event at the World Economic Forum Thursday.

The U.S. opened a trade conflict with China about two years ago, when it imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines.

Since then, both sides have placed additional duties on each other's products at different occasions. Their standoff appeared to have entered a temporary truce last week when the two countries signed a "phase one" trade deal.

The deal did not roll back all the tariffs imposed by the two countries on each other, but both parties agreed to negotiate further that during the next round of trade talks.

"I think America picked the war to fight with China … at really the wrong time," said Hong Kong property developer Tan Sri Dato' David Chiu, chairman of Far East Consortium International, during a panel discussion in Davos. "They should have picked the war 10 years ago."

"Today, China has 1.4 billion people — the world's second largest economy," he pointed out. "Who's going to consume more McDonald's and Coca-Cola than China?"

China has the largest population in the world, followed by India and the U.S. On the other hand, the U.S. contributes most to the share of global growth, followed by China.

Under the phase one deal, China agreed to buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods over the next two years. However, some analysts have raised concerns about the deal, with some warning it was a "fragile" agreement.

Some experts speaking at the WEF said the deal was a "disaster" and simply an "intermediate step" to allow tensions to calm down.

WATCH: Here are the concerns surrounding the phase one US-China trade deal

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Here are the concerns surrounding the phase one US-China trade deal