U.S. Doesn't Understand China, Parliament Spokeswoman Says

  • Lack of knowledge fuels ‘old and untrue’ stories about country
  • Veteran diplomat speaks ahead of Beijing legislative session

Delegates of the fifth session of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) cross a road in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 4.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Americans’ lack of understanding about China fueled “old and untrue” stereotypes during the U.S. presidential campaign, the spokeswoman for the country’s legislature said, pledging to address substantive concerns about trade.

National People’s Congress spokeswoman Fu Ying said Saturday that both sides needed to make greater efforts to boost U.S. knowledge about its largest trading partner. She was speaking at a news conference ahead of China’s 11-day annual legislative gathering in Beijing.

“The U.S. has little understanding on China generally, is that right?” said Fu, a former vice foreign minister and former ambassador the U.K. “Every single candidate talked about China during the election campaign. But all I heard were either old stories or untrue China stories. This phenomenon is unnatural and abnormal, especially in a society with a free flow of information.”

While President Donald Trump has refrained from stump-speech accusations that China was “raping” the U.S. of manufacturing jobs, he has continued to criticize the country’s currency policies, calling them the “grand champions” of currency manipulation in a interview with Reuters last month. Arguments that China was weakening the yuan to reduce the cost of its exports have lost steam as the country took steps to let the currency fluctuate more freely and started expending reserves to keep it strong. 

Currency Manipulator?

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled in a Feb. 23 interview with Bloomberg News that he was in no rush to brand China a currency manipulator, something Trump has promised as the opening volley in a trade fight. Mnuchin said he would wait for a quarterly review of foreign-exchange markets to determine if the country was cheating.

On Saturday, Fu cited high-level communications with new U.S. administration, including two phones calls between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as evidence that the two sides were committed to greater cooperation. During one of those calls, Trump reaffirmed U.S. support for the so-called One-China policy, easing concern in Beijing that he might upend ties over Taiwan.

The One-China policy remained the political foundation of stable relations, Fu said, adding that Beijing was ready to meet challenges with the White House. China was “hoping to solve the trade-deficit issue through expanded trade” with the U.S., she said.

Trump has promised to reduce the $347 billion U.S. trade deficit with China. Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s National Trade Council, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last year wrote a paper in which they blamed trade gap for what they described as America’s “slow growth plunge.”

Trade between the world’s two biggest economies supports around 2.6 million American jobs, according to the U.S.-China Business Council. While the U.S. has a goods-trade deficit with China, its exports of services to the country are growing rapidly. Between 2006 and 2014, they climbed more than 300 percent.

— With assistance by Keith Zhai, and Jing Jin

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