California governor warns against US trade war with China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 2:53pm

California Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday urged greater cooperation with China to resolve a trade dispute, while taking an apparent swipe at US President Donald Trump.

“Globalisation is here. We are not going to get rid of it. And a trade war is stupid,” Brown said.

Brown told a business summit in Beverly Hills that the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, were inextricably linked through business, climate and security issues.

He said both need to rise above the conflict and work together in an ever-shifting global economy.

“No tariff, no little trade dispute or big trade dispute is going to stop us,” Brown said. “The stuff that is not working today. Let’s figure out how to make it work.”

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The governor spoke as Chinese and US officials met in Beijing in an attempt to resolve a dispute that has taken the countries the closest they have come to a trade war.

The Trump administration has threatened to impose new tariffs on roughly US$150 billion in Chinese goods, which prompted China to announce its own tariffs on US products.

At one point, in what appeared to be a reference to Trump’s presidency, Brown assured the business leaders that “this too will pass”.

“I’m not telling you what I’m referring to,” Brown said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

In another apparent dig, Brown said the two countries have great potential as future trade partners, but “all you need is a great leader”.

The annual conference is intended to promote stronger ties between Chinese business officials and industry leaders in California.

China’s consul general in Los Angeles, Zhang Ping, said trade between California and China reached US$175 billion last year, an increase of nearly 20 per cent from 2013.

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He warned that a bitter trade war would harm both counties, while disrupting the international supply chain.

“Trade war inflicts mutual disruption,” he said. “To avoid it, the only way is to seek win-win solutions through negotiation … rather than confrontation.”

Brown, a frequent Trump critic, argued that it was in the interest of California’s massive economy, among the world’s largest, to maintain strong ties with China.

“In California we’re not encumbered by Washington politics. We have our own politics,” he said.