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Trade wars never good, for anyone: Fox TV host in high-profile debate

WASHINGTON – A trade deal might be possible if China is treated with respect, Ms Liu Xin, host of an English-language programme on China Global Television Network, told Fox Business Network host Trish Regan in a live face-off on prime time in the United States.

She said on the show, Trish Regan Primetime, that both sides are considering where to go next but the Chinese government had made its position very clear; if the US government treated the Chinese negotiating team with respect, and showed a willingness to talk without using outside pressure, there was a high possibility that there could be a productive trade deal. “Otherwise I think we might be facing a prolonged period of problems for both sides,” she said.

The high-profile Chinese media host specified that she was not a “member of the Communist Party” and did not speak for the party or the government.

CGTN is, however, an arm of the Chinese state.

The two media hosts fenced. A sceptical Ms Regan produced a list of US Department of Justice and World Trade Organisation (WTO) cases in which decisions on intellectual property (IP) theft cases had gone against China. Ms Liu agreed that IP theft is a problem, but one which China is addressing.

“I do not deny there are IP infringements, there are copyright issues, there (is) piracy and even theft of commercial secrets that (have) to be dealt with,” she said. But she maintained that there was consensus in China that no society can develop without IP protection.

“Of course, there are cases where individuals and companies go and steal… There are companies in the United States who sue each other all the time over IP rights; you can’t say simply that America is stealing, or China is stealing. This sort of blanket statement is really not helpful.”

Ms Liu said she was in favour of sharing IP as long as it is paid for and is not illegal. “We all prosper because we learn from each other,” she said.

She also defended China’s “developing nation” status, which enables it to access development finance from institutions like the World Bank. Despite being the world’s biggest economy, on a per capita basis – because of a population three times that of the US – China is still “less than one sixth” of the US, she said, and noted: “We want to grow up, we don’t want to be dwarfed or poor or underdeveloped all the time.”

Asked a hypothetical question – whether no tariffs at all would be a good thing – Ms Liu said getting rid of tariffs altogether was a wonderful idea because consumers in both countries would get much cheaper products.

“But if you want to change the rules, it has to be done by mutual consensus,” she said.

“Let’s talk about it, let’s do it according to the rules, if you don’t like the rules… change the rules, but it has to be a multilateral process.”

Though it veered towards edginess at times, the debate was restrained between two media hosts who had recently exchanged thinly veiled barbs over social media – Ms Liu had called Ms Regan “emotional” – and found some agreement as well. Both ended up proposing to talk more.

“Trade wars are never good, for anyone,” Ms Regan said.

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