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Dr. John Gong: -The surprising and not-so-surprising part of Xi speech
发布时间:2018年05月15日  来源:首发  作者:Dr. John Gong  阅读:112



On Sunday while the press was busy reporting the dawn of the Sino-US trade war after a week of bruising market tanking on Wall Street, Trump came out with a shocking tweet that calms down everyone:

 

“President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property…”

 

Today at BoAo, the most important and substantive part of the President Xi’s speech is directed, in unequivocal terms, at Americans. But judging from Trump’s tweet on Sunday, I strongly suspect Trump already had a copy of this part of the Xi’s speech beforehand.

 

Alas, the statement at the Ministry of Commerce’s press conference three days, that there is no negotiation at all between the two parties, may need to be interpreted with a grain of salt.

 

But by no means am I implying our president has the same management style as Trump’s. While Trump directs orders via tweeting, Xi uses official venues like the BoAo forum to announce China’s big policy movements.

 

Here is a quick list of things that surprises me and a list that doesn’t surprise me. I will start with things with no surprise.

 

Opening up the financial market including the insurance market is no surprise to me. This is first announced during Liu He’s Davos speech. The foreign direct investment negative list is also no surprise, as this has been in discussion at MOFCOM for quite some time. Measures to increase imports, including the November China Imports Exhibition in Shanghai, as expected, are mentioned to appease American outcry of the trade imbalance. But President Xi still stood ground by politely appealing to the American side to further relax the technology exports control regime so that more things can be sold to China.

 

Now are the things that surpass my expectations. First, the equity limitation by foreign investment in a host of manufacturing sectors, and particularly the automobile sector as Xi mentioned, is a big big surprise. This must have gone through quite some resistance internally at the NDRC, nevertheless, the largest symbolic sign of China’s trade barrier, the darkest stigma to China being a free trading nation, will be finally gone. I think that is what Trump’s tweet refers to as “take down its Trade Barriers”.

 

The tariff reduction on a range of goods, particularly for automobile imports, is a surprise to me. I am not so surprised at the tariff reduction trend, but at the speed at which it is addressed, particularly with respect to the automobile imports. When Trump announced the Presidential Memorandum based on the USTR’s Section 301 investigation several weeks ago, he specifically used that example of 25% tariff on auto imports in China and 2% in the US at the press conference. Today, he got a personal promise from Xi. It looks like auto tariffs will be reciprocal. I think that is what Trump’s tweet refers to as “Taxes will become Reciprocal”.

 

Finally, Xi’s announcement that China will restructure the State Intellectual Property Office (ISPO) as part of an overall effort to strengthen IP protection is a big surprise to me. Again, the overall trend toward better IPR protection is no surprise, as corporate China is increasingly shifting from a licensee position to the licensor position. But restructuring ISPO? Wow, that is big news. And my guess is that ISPO will no longer be just a passive place to file patents. It will have more teeth in IPR protection to become a quasi-law enforcement agency. I think that is what Trump’s tweet refers to as “a deal will be made on Intellectual Property.”

 

In conclusion, all my surprises are no surprise to Donald Trump. Heck, from now on, I am going to read Trump’s tweets really carefully and between lines.

 


Dr. John Gong is a research fellow at Charhar Institute



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