Do not take sides in US-China dispute

Since the US-China trade dispute erupted, I have received countless articles, jokes and videos, almost on a daily basis, expressing views and opinions, usually blaming one party or the other for being unreasonable, greedy or for being a thief or a bully.

I must say most of the material I have received are pro-China and anti-US, in particular, anti-Trump. Once, I responded in a chat group, reminding myself and others not to take sides. For this, I was reprimanded severely, with some sending me even more videos and articles supporting China.

Honestly, I would prefer that the truth prevails rather than basing our arguments on the looks and personalities of TV anchors of Fox Business Network and China Global Television Network.

How much of the details do we really know about the contentious issues involving China and the US? Without that, we cannot judge who is being unreasonable, abrasive or intimidating. Should we just let sentiments and parochialism dictate our support for one party or the other?

I believe all of us want free and fair trade, respect for intellectual properties and fair treatment of foreign investments across borders, etc. Any distortion or an uneven playing field will gradually but surely lead to disputes and discontentment.

Between the US and China today, do we know who is more open to foreign imports and investments? Do we know the average tariff imposed on imports by the US and China?

What about non-tariff restrictions? Do we know which country is more pervasive on this?

Do we know how freely US and Chinese companies are allowed to provide their services in each other’s countries? Did the US control Chinese companies, just like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Gmail are being controlled in China?

On intellectual properties, do we know for sure who is stealing from whom? Do we know the companies involved and how much such theft is affecting their wellbeing? Do we know how the competitiveness of US and Chinese companies is affected by the theft of intellectual property?

What about state subsidies embedded in exports and foreign investments? Do we know for sure how the US and China are doing this? Do we know the sectors that are supported by the state and the quantum involved?

I think the US and China should negotiate in the open. I think the other countries need not take sides but look at the issues objectively.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.