Trade war: China to increase influence in GCC, Africa

2018/06/11 – As the world’s two largest economies — the US and China — are locked in an escalating trade battle, a visiting Chinese policy expert said the ongoing trade war will enable China to increase its exposure to the GCC and the broader Mena region.

China is increasingly shifting its focus on non-Western countries against the backdrop of the battle. The country is keen on partnering with the GCC countries in infrastructure, industrialization, energy cooperation and financing mechanism, Dr Wu Bingbing of Institute for International and Strategic Studies, Peking University, told The Peninsula, on the sidelines of the “Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference”.

Dr Wu, the State of Qatar Chair Professor n Middle Eastern Studies at Peking University, said China will further deepen its cooperation with the GCC region and energy sector will be key in this partnership.

“We have seen this with CNPCC and QatarGas. China will be buying more LNG from Qatar and also more deals in infrastructure construction projects will be concluded by the two sides going forward”. China is also looking to leverage its presence in the region’s maritime industry as well, he added.

To face up the trade war, China wants to keep the multilateral trade mechanism. It means that China needs new partners. This will help strengthen Chinese cooperation in this region, African countries and also other parts of the world outside Europe. Dr Wu said China will continue to implement its ambitious multibillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Dr Wu rejected the theory that the ongoing trade battle is the fallout of a tension between the US Capitalist economic model and China’s State-supported Capitalist model.

“We don’t call it as State Capitalism. We call it ‘socialism with Chinese character’. It means, we have our own political structure, social structure, economic structure those are different from Western system. We believe it will bring more opportunities to the country and find its own solutions to its own problems. We don’t impose it on other countries.”

On the global concerns that a prolonged US-China trade war will bring in a global economic slowdown, he said it is the responsibility of the US to take initiative on how to address it. China doesn’t want to go for a confrontation with the US.

In fact, this trade battle was unilaterally imposed on China. China doesn’t want to worsen the global economy through a trade battle. That’s why China continues to talk about multi-lateral trade mechanism and try to make contribution to the world economy. Dr Wu said China doesn’t want to change the existing global order and establish an alternative one. China doesn’t pursue any conflict or confrontation.

“I don’t think China wants to create a separate global order or the so called ‘Chinese Hegemony’ in global market.”

Earlier, participating in a roundtable on ‘Impact of tariffs and global economic trends on the region’s economies”, experts shared their concerns that a prolonged US-China trade war will lead to a global economic slowdown.

James Pickup of ‘Middle East Investment Initiative’ was of the view that the region should stay away from the ongoing US-China tussle. “The region should stay out of fight and it should open up trade with. It should open up trade within the region and beyond.” Pickup said a prolonged trade war will certainly trigger an economic shock and impact oil prices.

The Peninsula/Sahel-Elite

 

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