China’s envoy talks tough on trade war

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Wang Min, China’s ambassador to Norway, was traveling around the southern portion of the country this week when he spoke warmly about trade between China and Norway but launched a tirade against the US. If US President Donald Trump wants a trade war, the envoy said, he’ll get it, “and China will fight to the bitter end.”

Chinese ambassador Wang Min speaking with Ragnar Tronstad and the CEO of Elkem, Helge Aasen, at the Chinese-owned company’s research and development facilities at the Fiskaa plant in Kristiansand. PHOTO: Elkem

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) was along when Wang visited the southern coastal city of Kristiansand. His stops included Dyreparken (Norway’s biggest zoo), the University of Agder and the Chinese-owned metals company Elkem. It was there that his rhetoric against the US heated up.

He claimed the “situation” between the US and China, which is already having negative effects on Norway, was not initiated by China. “We want dialogue,” he told DN, adding that he hoped the conflict would be resolved through conversations. He stressed, though, that China won’t allow itself to be pressured.

“Our American friends,” he said, are making a lot of noise but China maintains that the Trump Administration is violating international agreements set up through the World Trade Organisation. He even called Trump “a bad president,” in harsh remarks that surely were cleared by his superiors in Beijing.

They grabbed attention in Norway, where officials at the US Embassy in Oslo referred questions to Washington that weren’t answered. “This is an unusually powerful response of a type normally only seen in issues of great political significance for China,” Bjørnar Sverdrup-Thygeson, a researcher at the Norwegian foreign policy institute NUPI. “China is being very clear that a trade war will be negative for everyone, but the US will get one if it wants. The fact an ambassador is coming out so hard shows how important this is for China.”

Wang came to Norway in 2016 and played a key role in the normalization of relations between China and Norway last year, after years of a diplomatic freeze after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao. Now he clearly senses support for China’s position against the US in Norway, where officials worry about the effects of an international trade war on their small and open economy.

“Our two economies are quite complimentary,” Wang told DN. “Where China is weak, Norway is strong and vice versa. That means I have great faith in considerable growth in trade and relations between our two countries.” He added that he thinks resumption of a new trade agreement between China and Norway will result in a bilateral pact sometime next year.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund