Chinese President Xi Jinping sent what appeared to be a direct warning to US President Donald Trump by saying there would be “no winners” in the event of a full-fledged trade war.
In an apparent effort to woo fellow emerging economies, Xi also called for more support for less developed countries, especially in Africa, so that everyone could share the benefit of globalisation.
Speaking on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa on Wednesday, Xi said: “Unilateralism and protectionism are mounting, dealing a severe blow to multilateralism and the multilateral trading regime,” without mentioning the United States by name.
Xi said developing economies, regardless of their size, should observe international rules as the collective rise of emerging markets and developing countries “is unstoppable and will make global development more balanced”.
He continued: “The current international order is not perfect but as long as it pursues a win-win situation for all countries, it must not be discarded as one pleases.”
Trade tensions are continuing to escalate between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies.
Hours before Xi’s speech, Trump accused Beijing of “viciously” targeting American farmers, after the Trump administration announced an unusual US$12 billion in aid for American farmers hit by tariffs from China.
China is targeting our farmers, who they know I love & respect, as a way of getting me to continue allowing them to take advantage of the U.S. They are being vicious in what will be their failed attempt. We were being nice – until now! China made $517 Billion on us last year.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018
“China is targeting our farmers, who they know I love & respect, as a way of getting me to continue allowing them to take advantage of the U.S. They are being vicious in what will be their failed attempt. We were being nice – until now! China made $517 Billion on us last year.” the US President wrote in a Twitter post.
There has been growing speculation that China may face more pressure from the US after Trump reached a deal with the EU on Wednesday to suspend new tariffs and reopen negotiations on lifting the existing ones.
The annual BRICS summit, involving the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has long been struggling to establish its position on international stage.
But as Trump takes a protectionist stand, Beijing may seek more support from developing economies through BRICS, Tom Rafferty, China principal economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said.
“China can build support its position internationally in the context of multilateral trade negotiations including the World Trade Organisation’s consensus-based rules in voting for reforms,” said Rafferty.
“Traditionally China has used its relations with some of the developing countries to support its position as a developing economy.”