As trade tensions between the United States and China escalated in the week following President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of a tariff hike on Chinese imports, China’s state-run media soon cranked up its propaganda efforts, criticizing the actions of the United States.
In a familiar response, news of Trump’s decision on May 5 to raise tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods was immediately met with blanket censorship in China, along with silence from the regime’s official media.
However, as a Chinese trade delegation headed by Vice Premier Liu He was confirmed to head to Washington D.C. for another round of trade talks from May 9 to 10, state-run media outlets were quick to depict the regime coming into negotiations in a position of strength.
The Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece newspaper People’s Daily played tough in a commentary published May 7, claiming that the regime wouldn’t make any concessions—and has “complete confidence” that it can withstand any economic challenges the U.S.–China trade war would bring.
“When things are unfavorable to us, no matter how you ask, we will not take any step back. Do not even think about it,” the People’s Daily article read.
As trade discussions were about to start in Washington D.C., the Global Times, a hawkish newspaper published under People’s Daily that focuses on international issues, issued an editorial on May 9, contending that the Chinese regime would not be intimidated by the United States.
The editorial likened the upcoming trade negotiation in the U.S. capital to the events of “Hongmen Banquet,” a famous incident from Chinese history whereby a banquet was prepared in an attempt to assassinate the guest—thus implying that the United States, as the host, had a dishonorable intent.
The Global Times, reiterating previous statements, also blamed the trade war on the United States, saying the dispute resulted from “unreasonable requests from the U.S.” based on the “wrong understanding that the U.S. is naturally the privileged side in the bilateral relation because of its national power.”
The round of trade talks ended on May 10 with no agreement, hours after the announced tariff hikes officially came into effect. Discussions are set to continue in the future, according to Trump, although no date has been set as of yet, CNBC reported.
Earlier this week, the U.S. administration accused the Chinese regime of going back on past commitments made over months of trade discussions.
Reuters reported on May 8, citing government and private sector sources, that Beijing reversed previous promises to change its laws to address core U.S. concerns, including theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced technology transfers, and currency manipulation.
The Trump administration’s demand for the Chinese regime to implement structural reforms, which propelled it to launch the trade war with China last March, has been a sticking point during trade negotiations.
Despite the regime’s boastful propaganda, many Chinese netizens have expressed support for Trump’s tariffs. Those hopeful for true structural reform in China’s economic system celebrated the tariff increase announced by Trump. They began spreading an internet meme calling Trump a “great savior” of the Chinese people.