Opinion / Chen Weihua

'Crying' Schumer's rhetoric out of touch with reality

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2017-06-27 07:09

US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer railed against President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. However, he sounded as if he might have voted for Trump in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday.

In the article, Schumer blasted Trump for backing off several core campaign positions, including making a stark reversal of his "tough" posture toward China.

All these reflect nothing but Schumer's long-term anti-China rhetoric, although it may sound odd for someone who did not even vote for Trump to fervently ask Trump to keep his campaign promise.

It is no secret that most US presidential candidates will say anything to get elected, so it's unrealistic to expect them to keep all their promises, especially those made on the campaign trail.

Former US presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all talked tough on China during their presidential races, but once they were in office, they simply needed to face reality and adopt more pragmatic policies.

After Trump won the election on Nov 8, most economists became deeply worried about the possible trade war between China and the US that might erupt if Trump were indeed to keep his promise of labelling China a currency manipulator.

They also felt it would make the US government laughable, because for the past years, the Chinese government has been propping up its currency, RMB, from falling, which has helped US exports be more competitive.

However, Schumer told reporters on Jan 24 to do exactly that. "Mr President: if you really want to put America first, label China a currency manipulator," he told reporters.

Whatever Schumer's intention is, he is out of touch and misleading people on this very important issue. The consequences would be catastrophic if President Trump had taken his crying seriously.

In April, the semi-annual report by the US Treasury Department on currency practices of its major trade partners found that China has not manipulated its currency.

Last November, Schumer fearmongered about Chinese direct investment in the US. In a letter to then US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Schumer demanded extra scrutiny of Dalian Wanda's acquisitions in Hollywood. "I am concerned that these acquisitions reflect the strategic goals of China's government," he said.

There is growing concern among Chinese investors that fearmongering by US lawmakers could prompt the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to discriminate against Chinese investment.

The good news is that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross assured the Chinese investors attending the 2017 SelectUSA Summit last week that the US will treat Chinese investment fairly.

The 155-strong Chinese delegation to the investment summit at National Harbor, Maryland, was the largest from abroad. If Schumer had visited the US state and city booths at the SelectUSA Summit exhibition, he would be surprised at the enthusiasm in welcoming Chinese investment that helps grow their economy and create jobs.

China and the US have become each other's largest trade partners and most important investors. Such a mutually beneficial relationship has allowed US consumers to save money by buying inexpensive Chinese products. US companies have also expanded rapidly in China, a market of more than 1.3 billion people, including the fastest-growing middle class in the world.

Friction is just normal between two large trading partners. It is true that China, as a country in transition, is still in the learning process in many respects.

The 100-Day Action Plan agreed upon by Trump and President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago is the right approach to address existing bilateral issues. The two governments will also hold a comprehensive economic dialogue this summer.

If sounding and acting tough, as Schumer suggested, will lead to a solution, then it is all too easy to tackle the problems in the world today, including the thorny one on the Korean Peninsula.

What Schumer cannot see is that dialogue based on equality and mutual respect is a better way forward.

The author is deputy editor of China Daily USA. chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com

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