On Thursday, China made an alarming accusation, saying that Trump administration was guilty of committing “economic terrorism”. This is the latest lash out in what has become a heated exchange with the United States amid escalating trade tensions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement through spokesperson Lu Kang, who told reporters in Beijing on Thursday that the White House had “brought huge damage to the economy of other countries and the US itself.” Kang went on to say that the US was using “typical economic terrorism, economic hegemonism, and economic unilateralism.”
The Chinese state media also issued this harsh message to Washington on Wednesday: “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.” The Communist Party’s newspaper, The People’s Daily, said in a commentary on Wednesday, that China would “never accept” the US’ suppression of Chinese development.
On May 15, the Trump administration signed an order to ban major Chinese companies, including tech industry giant Huawei, from buying vital components, like computer chips, from the US. Those chips are made from one of China’s major exports, rare earths. China’s top economic planning agency recently said it would be willing to limit exports of rare earth minerals.
The commentary was published under the pseudonym Wuyuehe and said,
“At present, the United States completely overestimates its ability to control the global supply chain and is due to slap itself in the face when it sobers up from its happy, ignorant self-indulgence… Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”The People’s Daily
In the past this phrase has only been used by the Chinese state media in times of serious conflict. For example, The People’s Daily used it in 1962 before going into armed battle against India. They used it again in 1978 just prior to the Vietnam invasion.
The US recently raised tariffs on Chinese imports from 10% to 25%, after continued talks between the two countries absolutely fell apart earlier in May. Any hope for negotiations is dim since each side perpetually blames the other for setbacks. US President Donald Trump said on Monday, from Japan, that he was “not ready” to solidify a deal.
US imports from China far outweigh China’s imports from the US, thus one more reason for the trade war and China is running out of US imports to tariff, making rare earth exports a hot button issue. China exported about 80% of the US’ rare earth supply from 2014-2017 and they have, so far, not been targeted by US tariffs.
A representative of China’s National Development and Reform Commission posted a statement on it’s website on Wednesday suggesting a possibility of action on rare earths, saying,
“What I can tell you is that if anyone wants to use products made of China’s rare earth exports to contain China’s development, the people of Ganzhou and across China will not be happy with that.”From China’s National Development and Reform Commisson
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a rare earth factory in Jiangxi province, on May 20 which some experts say sent a message to Trump and Washington. The People’s Daily commentary said, “Will the rare earth become a counter-control weapon against China’s unwarranted suppression (by the US)? The answer is not mysterious… In fact, consumer electronics, military equipment and many other products produced in the US are highly dependent on China’s rare earth resources.”
Even so, amid all the clashes and clapbacks, these threats may not hold as much weight as some in China think. The US still maintains a stockpile of key rare earth materials, especially the ones used in the defense industry.