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A U.S. Perspective on China’s External Economic Disputes in the Past 40 Years
2018-07-02 17:11:23
On the disputes over China’s trade imbalance, (1) they were marked by analytical confusion over the meaning of
the term “equilibrium exchange rate”; (2) China’s trade imbalance reflects the economic conditions in both
China and abroad, and that the efficient and fair solution of the problem requires policy changes not only by
China but also by the US; (3) the dispute on exchange rate misalignment has been a diversion away from (a)
addressing the underlying structural factors causing the trade imbalance, and (b) improving the inadequacy of
US job transition programs that has exacerbated US unhappiness with trade imbalance.
On the industrial policy dispute, (1) the issue of forced technology transfer is largely a dispute about a large
economy using its market power to benefit itself at the expense of its trade partners; (2) this use of market
power is normally temporary because of the almost inevitable retaliation by other large countries. (3) notion of
national security that is commonly adopted in the US trade policy debate is overly broad and short-sighted, and,
unless these two aspects are corrected, they will hurt the US economy and weaken US national security in the
On China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI), (1) as the number of BRI project grows and as the number of partner
countries increases, the number of economic disputes that China will be involved in will grow; (2) China should
ensure that the BRI projects in a country are beneficial to the general population of that country and not just
politically-biased toward the government in power at that time because, unlike in China, most governments in
other countries come and go more frequently; and (3) economic disputes are a systemic feature of the present
uncoordinated multi-polar world.
China’s economy in 2018 is very different from that in 1978. There should now be more reciprocity in China’s
trade and investment relations with the advanced economies. China should not only give national treatment in
the near future to foreign firms but should also set up a mechanism to start easing up on foreign acquisition of
Chinese firms in a manner that is consistent with China’s national security concerns.
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