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Trade bullying self-punishing ploy of US: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-01-27 20:55

A logo is pictured outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, September 28, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The World Trade Organization ruled on Wednesday that China could slap retaliatory tariffs on imports from the United States, wrapping up a decade-long anti-dumping dispute over US duties on Chinese goods.

The WTO set up a special panel in 2012 upon a Chinese complaint about what it considered unfair US countervailing duties on products including thermal paper, solar panels, wind towers, steel sinks and several types of pipes. 

"In light of the parties' arguments and evidence in these proceedings, we have determined that the appropriate level … is $645.12 million per annum," a WTO arbitrator wrote in an 87-page decision. 

Wednesday's decision marks the second time the WTO has allowed China to seek compensation for US anti-dumping duties found in violation of international trade rules. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruled in China's favor and the ruling was upheld by its appeals judges in 2014.

With those longstanding US tariffs still in place, along with those imposed by the Donald Trump administration and sustained by the Joe Biden administration, which are unfair and illegitimate, Beijing has every reason to fight back. As the WTO arbitrator has found, the US move was faulty in the first place. 

But it remains to be seen whether Beijing will impose the permitted tariffs. 

The restraint Beijing has displayed thus far shows it is not really in the mood for a mutually debilitating fight. To Beijing, it is always the big picture that matters. When it comes to China-US trade ties, the big picture is the health of the two economies and the welfare of the two peoples, the importance of which is beyond doubt.

Like the White House under Trump, many US politicians may still be addicted to the weaponizing of trade. But what has Donald Trump's trade war against China accomplished in the US' favor? It has hurt China in some ways. But the Chinese economy as a whole has proved to be remarkably resilient, and, instead of falling apart as some in Washington wished, it has by and large fared well to date.

And there is little sign of the US economy benefiting from the "war", instead it is clear the US businesses and consumers have suffered as a result of it. Even those jobs that have shifted from China have not returned to US shores.

Rather than blaming the WTO for safeguarding global trade rules, Washington may want to examine its own deeds and rethink the unfair charges and bullying tariffs it imposed on China. It shouldn't be too difficult to imagine what will happen if China does impose the tariffs.

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