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China’s former top trade negotiator warns on Beijing approach to Trump tariff battle



Long Yongtu
Yongtu, former vice minister of foreign trade, is criticizing
China’s approach to US trade war.


  • China’s former chief trade negotiator hits out at
    Beijing for not thinking “deeply enough” about its approach to
    trade war with US.
  • “If we have people who always talk about politics
    engaging in negotiations, we will never have a deal,” Long
    Yongtu said on Sunday.
  • Long’s comments come as tensions between the two
    nations appear to thaw somewhat ahead of Trump and Xi’s meeting
    in Buenos Aires, Argentina later this month.

China’s former chief trade negotiator has hit out at his
country’s handling of rising trade tensions with the US, saying
that Beijing is failing to think “deeply enough” about its
approach to the conflict.

Speaking on Sunday, Long Yongtu, a former minister in
China’s foreign trade department told a conference that China has
been too politically driven in talks so far, and should take a
more pragmatic approach, focused on the economic realities of the
trade war.

“If we have people who always talk about politics engaging in
negotiations, we will never have a deal,” he said at the annual
conference of media outlet Caixin,
according to a report from the South China Morning Post.

We don’t think deeply enough,” he

In particular, Long singled out China’s approach to tariffs
on soybeans, one of the areas hardest hit by the trade war so
far. China is the largest buyer of soybeans in the world, but has
placed a 25% tariff on soybean imports from the US, and
has turned to Brazil in an attempt to meet domestic

Such a policy is misguided, Long said.

“China is in dire need of soybean imports, so why did we
pick out soybeans from the beginning? Is this deep thinking?” —
he asked.

“Agricultural products are very sensitive, and soybeans are
very sensitive as well. We should have avoided targeting
agricultural products because targeting agricultural products
should be the last resort,” Long said.

“But we have targeted agricultural products, or soybeans,
right from the start.”

top economist warns Trump’s China trade war is doing more damage
to the US economy than people think

Long, who led the trade negotiations which ultimately led
to China joining the World Trade Organisation in 2001, made his
comments as diplomats and negotiators from Washington and Beijing
prepare for talks ahead of a crucial meeting between presidents
Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires,

Tensions between the two sides appear to be waning somewhat,

with the US in particular signalling a more conciliatory stance
when it comes to tariffs. President Trump has reportedly
sidelined some of his most aggressively anti-China team members,
with Peter Navarro, an uber-protectionist trade adviser, among
those given a back seat.

The most significant sign that the US and China may
actually come to some agreement came last week after reports
surfaced that Beijing sent a letter to the Trump
administration outlining possible concessions.

So far, the US and China have traded tit-for-tat tariffs on
goods totalling $360 billion, with the US acting as the
aggressor, and Trump threatening numerous times to place tariffs
on all Chinese imports to the US,
worth around $500 billion.

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