Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

U.S. Treasury Official Says Era of Congratulating China Is Over

  • Malpass: China doesn’t support open trade, despite rhetoric
  • Current global economic system benefits China: Malpass

The U.S. is done applauding China for promising economic reforms and wants to see the Asian nation back up its professed support for open trade, according to a senior U.S. Treasury official.

The world has woken up to China’s failure to open its economy to market forces, as Beijing promised when it won membership in the World Trade Organization in 2001, said David Malpass, the Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs. His comments add to the barrage of criticism the Trump administration has unleashed over China’s trade and investment practices, though it’s done little yet to act on a promised crackdown.

“We’re coming off a period of years where China was congratulated by the U.S., by other countries for whatever they were doing,” Malpass said at an event in Washington on Wednesday. “They went to Davos a year ago and said ‘We’re into trade,’ when in reality what they’re doing is perpetuating a system that worked for their benefit but ended up costing jobs in most of the rest of the world.”

Malpass repeated concerns about China’s bid to win influence in developing nations by offering loans, a trend he said is driving the recipients further into debt. He reiterated U.S. concerns that China’s economic liberalization appears to have stalled, and in some cases has reversed.

As the U.S. rethinks its approach to trade, China has been redoubling efforts to reach new free-trade agreements and it’s trying to improve infrastructure and global commerce links with its multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road initiative. President Xi Jinping last year in Davos urged world leaders to reject protectionism, an indirect rebuke of the policies supported by President Donald Trump.

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