China is insisting that the anti-dumping investigations that it is carrying out against certain imports from the United States are not reactions to the various US anti-dumping investigations into imports from China. Instead, they are just normal legal procedures stemming from domestic complaints, just like such US actions are.

Well,perhaps we all do indeed believe that. On the other hand China has also said that it will defend itself against those protectionist moves by the United States: “China sharpened its rhetoric over the Trump administration efforts to investigate its trade practices on Thursday, vowing to use “all means necessary” to defend the country and its companies.

While analysts don’t believe a trade war between the world’s two largest economies is imminent, China’s harsh words underline a recent fraying of the relationship between Beijing and Washington over trade and North Korea”.

Given my own belief in the value of unilateral free trade I don’t think such deference need to be made of course. But given that both China and today at least the US tend to be rather more mercantilist they seem to believe they must:

The ministry on Monday expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the U.S. launch of the probe into China’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property, calling it “irresponsible”.

The probe is the Trump administration’s first direct measure against Chinese trade practices, which the White House and U.S. business groups say are bruising American industry.

I’m also deeply mistrustful of the entire TRIPS process, which is the one that ties in intellectual property rights with the more normal trade matters. But, since it’s there they all think they must at upon that too:

Even worse by my lights I don’t trust Lighthizer on trade matters at all. I just think he’s got entirely the wrong ideas on the subject. However, I do have a certain sneaking admiration for this:

China’s anti-dumping probes against U.S. products were legal procedures, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday.
In response to a question whether China’s probes were counter-measures to a U.S. investigation into China’s intellectual property practices, MOC spokesperson Gao Feng told a press briefing that both probes were legal.

In economic terms of course it’s nonsense as people sending you lots of cheap stuff is the very purpose and point of trade, those imports. In political terms it’s slightly cannier. The more American companies get on the wrong end of such treatment the larger the US constituency for not having this low level trade war will be.

Yes, it’s odd, even chutzpah, for China to be carrying out anti-dumping investigations into US exports to China but if that’s what’s politically necessary then that’s that, isn’t it? – Tim Worstall(

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