See More on Facebook

Analysis, Economics

China Trade War Update

China has kicked off the country’s first ever international import expo in Shanghai, an event designed to boost China’s image as a market to the world.


Written by

Updated: November 8, 2018

President Xi Jinping, in his opening remarks, said that the Shanghai expo isn’t simply an trade fair, rather it should be viewed as a “major policy for China to push for a new round of high-level opening-up and a major measure for China to take the initiative to open its market to the world.”

The Import Expo was not initially designed as an answer to the trade war with the United States—the expo was first announced more than a year ago in May of 2017, long before the first shots of the trade war were fired—but in a way that’s what it has become.

President Xi’s remarks were peppered throughout with thinly veiled criticism of President Trump’s America First, protectionist, and isolationist policies.

“Economic globalization is an irreversible historical trend and provides strong momentum for the world economic development,” Xi said, adding that “all countries should be committed to opening-up and oppose protectionism and unilateralism in a clear-cut stand.”

But the economic news out of China as the expo launched wasn’t completely rosy. A private survey released Monday has found that a gauge of growth in China’s services industries dipped to its lowest level in 13 months in October, calling into question Beijing’s ability to stabilize its economy in the face of the ongoing trade dispute with the United States.

The Caixin China General Services Business Activity Index dropped to 50.8 in October from September’s 53.1—the larger the figure above 50, the faster the expansion, the further below 50, the greater the dip—marking the lowest level since September 2017 in a sector that accounts for nearly 50 percent of the country’s economy.

China isn’t the only country feeling the impact of the skirmishes between the world’s largest economies. Last week, Korean markets were in “free fall,” sliding to a new 2018 low.

Governments across Asia are preparing their contingency plans to weather the economic storm the trade standoff—if it continues—will cause with some ramping up trade agreements, and others looking for opportunities to exploit the dispute for their own gains.

Recently, however, the world saw first real glimmer of hope that the trade tensions may be cooling off. One commentator from the China Daily called a phone conversation last week held between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping “ the most positive signal in the past months.” Trump himself described the call as “very good”.

And, perhaps an even better sign that an end of the trade war may be in sight came from Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan himself in his keynote speech at the first Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Tuesday morning. Like Xi, Wang also called for greater global openness, but also emphasized that both the US and Chinese economies have more to gain from cooperation than they do from confrontation.

“China will stay calm and sober-minded and embrace greater openness. Both China and the US would love to see greater trade and cooperation. We’re ready to discuss and work for a solution on trade that is acceptable to both sides,” he said.

Moving forward, analysts and regional government officials will be watching out for a potential meeting between Xi and Trump at end of November in Argentina on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit. The results of that meeting, and if the meeting happens at all, will signal changes in this fraught relationship, for better, or for worse.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Quinn Libson
About the Author: Quinn Libson is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Economics

What does Vietnam’s new cyber law mean for online dissent?

Will Facebook kowtow to the Vietnamese government to keep its market share. Facebook is in violation of a Vietnamese new cybersecurity law by allowing its users to post content critical of the communist government on its platform, the Ministry of Information and Communication announced on Wednesday of last week. The news came just days after the law went into effect on Jan. 1. The new legislation requires internet companies to comply with government demands to remove user-posted material it doesn’t like. The law also stipulates that information technology companies—Facebook and Google for instance—may be required to set up local offices and store customer data domestically, a feature which human rights advocates worry might make it easier for the government to track and charge dissidents for their online activities. This new legislation follows a pattern of increasing digital scrutiny by th


By Quinn Libson
January 15, 2019

Analysis, Economics

Seat belt warning as storm clouds loom in 2019

A look at potential headlines in 2019 by the Straits Times’ Warren Fernandez. You have been here before. As you settle into your comfortable seat for the long flight ahead, a voice crackles from the cockpit. “Our flying time today will be 12 hours, 40 minutes, and we expect a smooth journey ahead, but there looks to be some pockets of turbulence along the way,” your captain says, sounding vaguely assuring. “We suggest you keep your seat-belt on.” So was said on my recent Singapore Airlines flight home from holidaying abroad. It prompted several hours of meandering musings from 30,000 feet in the air about what lies ahead in the New Year. Some of the storm clouds that appear to loom on the political horizon include: 1. US-China: rivalries among frenemies Three recent developments sum up the precarious state of relations between the world’s two main powers, now on a tentative


By The Straits Times
January 7, 2019

Analysis, Economics

Pakistan seals financial assistance from UAE

$3 billion financial assistance sealed as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince meets Imran Khan in Islamabad. Pakistani and United Arab Emirates leadership have met thrice now in three months. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the UAE twice after assuming office in August to seek economic assistance. Both countries last week finalised the terms and conditions of a $6.2 billion support package for Islamabad to help address its balance-of-payments crisis. A joint statement issued after the UAE royal’s visit said Prime Minister Khan thanked the crown prince for the “generous” balance-of-payments support of $3 billion, which appears to have materialised first out of the total financial package. Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who last visited


By Dawn
January 7, 2019

Analysis, Economics

Afghan war helped Pakistan keep nuclear option: US papers

US backing for anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan may have enabled the Pakistan bomb. Torn between preventing Pakistan from going nuclear and fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States appears to have decided that pushing the Russians out of Kabul was more important, shows a set of documents released by the US State Department. Official US memos and letter — released under an arrangement to make public official documents after 30 years — show that Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (in office from 1978 to 1989) also played a key role in convincing Washington to continue to support Islamabad despite its nuclear programme. Timeline: History of US-Pakistan relations A confidential State Department report, dated Aug 20, 1984, shows that by 1984 Washington knew Islamabad had acquired the


By Dawn
December 24, 2018

Analysis, Economics

What caused the Sunda Strait tsunami?

A volcanic eruption may have been the cause of the cataclysmic event. Questions still abound about what caused the tsunami that hit beaches in Lampung and Banten on Saturday night, killing at least 168 and injuring 750. The lack of a powerful earthquake or strong volcanic eruption caused the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to initially announce that the waves did not constitute a tsunami but were instead caused by high tide. “The BMKG has not recorded any earthquake occurring tonight. What happened in Anyer [Banten] and the surrounding area was not a tsunami, but a tidal wave. There is also a full moon tonight, which causes high tidal waves. Stay calm,” the BMKG stated on its Twitter account on Saturday night, in a tweet that has since been deleted. It was only discovered hours later that the tide was three meter high, and potentially caused by volcanic activity of Mou


By The Jakarta Post
December 24, 2018

Analysis, Economics

AIIB approves applications of six more countries

The total of countries with a membership in the China-led bank now stands at 93. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced on Wednesday that its Board of Governors has approved the membership applications of six more countries, bringing AIIB’s total approved members to 93. The new group of approved members is comprised of Algeria, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, Serbia and Togo. “Within three years, AIIB’s membership has increased from the 57 founders to 93 approved members from almost every continent. This shows our member’s commitment to multilateral cooperation and strengthens AIIB’s role in the international financial community,” said AIIB Vice President and Corporate Secretary Sir Danny Alexander. “The growing membership of the Bank in Europe and Africa also reflects the importance for growth and development of inter-regional connectivity, esp


By China Daily
December 21, 2018