US and China spar at WTO policy forum

The United States and China, the world’s top two economies, exchanged harsh words at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday. (AFP pic)

GENEVA: The US and China renewed hostilities at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, with Washington accusing Beijing of expecting impunity despite countless violations.

The world’s top two economies exchanged harsh words at the US Trade Policy Review, where the WTO’s 164-members are given the chance to scrutinise the practices of the member under the microscope.

China on Monday said the US had renounced its leadership role of the world economy by imposing tariffs and other restrictions designed to harm others for the narrow benefit of Americans.

US WTO ambassador Dennis Shea, a relentless China critic, mocked the notion that Washington should remain passive in the face of Chinese threats.

“Strip away the jargon, and here is China’s argument: China will force technology transfer, and outright steal it when it sees fit… China will dump its products on our markets, claiming that all is okay because our consumers pay a little less,” Shea said.

“If the United States musters a response, we are abusing our power and acting irresponsibly. Rather, we should resign ourselves to nursing the wounds inflicted on our citizens. This is not acceptable.”

A Chinese envoy to the WTO, Hu Yingzhi, insisted China would not be made the “scapegoat” for US trade concerns, according to a Geneva trade official familiar with his remarks.

The director of the WTO’s trade policy division, Willy Alfaro, described the debate during the two-day US review as “lively”.

President Donald Trump’s administration has attacked the WTO on multiple fronts, including its alleged failure to respond to the Beijing’s manipulation of free enterprise.