China has more to lose than the United States in the two nations’ burgeoning trade dispute but Washington remains open to dialogue with its largest trading partner, a senior White House adviser said on Tuesday.
Trade brinkmanship between Washington and Beijing continued late Monday when President Donald Trump threatened to put fresh duties on between $200 billion and $400 billion in Chinese imports. The possible new duties, which could cover the lion’s share of all of China’s exports to the United States, were a response to retaliatory Chinese levies on up to $50 billion in U.S. goods announced on Friday.
With Wall Street sliding further into the red on Tuesday and nerves on edge among lawmakers in Trump’s Republican Party, senior White House economic aide Peter Navarro defended the new trade policy.
“It’s clear that China does have much more to lose,” he told reporters, noting that China exported more than $500 billion to the U.S. last year, far more than the $130 billion it imported from the United States. Navarro reiterated Washington’s accusations that China had used string of unfair practices—cyber-theft, state-sponsored corporate acquisitions, forced technology transfers and export restrictions—to target global dominance in advanced new industrial sectors.
“It is important to note here that the actions President Trump has taken are purely defensive in nature,” Navarro said. “They are designed to defend the crown jewels of American technology from China’s aggressive behavior.”
These included aerospace, advanced rail and shipping, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, biotechnology, new energy vehicles, precision farming and robotics, said Navarro.
“These are the future of the world and of America and China cannot have 70 percent of production of these industries by 2025,” he added, referring to a Chinese industrial development plan denounced by Washington.
Navarro said U.S. officials planned to cushion against the blows to American industries and workers in the United States and present in China but declined to elaborate on any plans to help the U.S. farming sector. “President Trump will have the backs of all Americans who may be targeted by Chinese actions and with respect to the farmers in Iowa or any other state,” Navarro said.
Efforts to convince Beijing to change its ways had so far failed despite several rounds of transpacific diplomacy, he added. “Our phone lines are open. They have always been open,” said Navarro. “The fundamental reality is talk is cheap. Delay is expensive.”