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China’s consul general in LA speaks out on trade, Trump and tariffs

By Chang Jun | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-03-27 22:49

China’s top diplomat in Southern California voiced his concerns over recent US-China trade frictions, reiterating that the two largest economies in the world should engage in dialogue and communication, instead of confrontation, to tackle differences and solve disputes.

Zhang Ping, consul-general at the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, said in a recent interview with China Daily that the US and China should cherish their hard-earned friendship and continue to advance the new model of a major country relationship they have embarked upon.

It is the loving care and hard work of the national governments, local authorities, friendly organizations and people from all walks of life in both countries that have made China-US relations flourish.

Southern California has a long history of consistent and frequent exchanges with China across a wide spectrum of areas — trade, business, culture, tourism and education, said Zhang.

China remains the Golden State’s biggest trading partner, the largest source of import and the third-largest export market. China-California trade volume in 2017 was $175.6 billion, a 10.9 percent increase over the previous year.

Back in 2013, California signed an agreement with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) to boost economic and trade cooperation with China.

The agreement, the first-of-its-kind between a sub-national entity and MOFCOM, established a joint working group that includes California, MOFCOM and leaders from six provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China — Jiangsu province, Inner Mongolia autonomous region and the cities of Shanghai, Shandong, Guangdong and Chongqing.

The working group’s activities include regular exchange of information, annual seminars on trade and investment, trade missions and the formation of strategic relationships between cities in California and China.

The agreement also identifies nine key sectors for cooperation: infrastructure, biotechnology, information technology, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, tourism, environmental protection and exhibitions.

The greater Los Angeles area, due to its geographical proximity to China and its large Asian population, enjoyed a trade volume of over $160 billion in 2016 with China. Nearly 30 percent of the total China-US trade is executed through LA customs.

Direct investment from China to Southern California has surpassed $10 billion. The City of Angeles in 2017 alone welcomed 1.1 million Chinese tourists who brought in about $1.2 billion to the local economy.

“In May, we are going to participate in the third China Week — a series of events that take place throughout the greater Los Angeles region,” he said.

The annual event draws participants from China and the US to seminars and workshops across nine sectors: arts and culture, business, education, entertainment, environment, public affairs, science and technology, tourism and philanthropy.

People-to-people exchanges in education, culture and the movie industry are also strong. “There are about 50,000 Chinese students now registered and furthering their studies on US campuses in Southern California,” said Zhang. “We believe the bilateral relationship is multi-tiered, well-shaped and has great potential for further development.”

Of the recent trade frictions, especially US President Donald Trump’s signing on March 22 of a memorandum that could impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China and restrict Chinese investment in the US, Zhang said, “This is a typical unilateral trade protectionist action. China is strongly disappointed and firmly opposes it.”

The actions undertaken by the US side serve nobody’s interest. They will directly hurt US consumers, companies and financial markets, and will also jeopardize the international trade order and world economic stability. It was started to hurt others but will eventually end up hurting itself, Zhang added.

The China consulate in Los Angeles will continue to play a proactive role in facilitating exchanges between Southern California and China, pushing forward people-to-people friendship and providing efficient consular protection of overseas Chinese citizens, he added.

Contact the writer at junechang@chinadailyusa.com

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