The Chinese ambassador to Cambodia this week attacked the United States in an exchange on social media following weeks of silence.
In a statement written in the Khmer language and posted on the embassy’s Facebook page, Ambassador Wang Wentian accused the U.S. of inflaming the trade war and calling it a “dishonest individual” during the negotiation with China.
Wang’s five-page letter titled “Covered by Thick Snow, the Pine Tree Still Stands Strong” accused the United States of violating its promises after eleven trade talks, including three bilateral talks, which reached an unexplained “consensus”.
“The U.S. is clearly the instigator of trade disputes between China and the U.S., an individual betraying promises and retracting from positions. The U.S. is fully responsible for every serious barrier in the trade talks between China and the U.S.,” Wang wrote in a Saturday statement.
He added that the U.S. has intensified the dispute by increasing tariffs, leaving other involved countries no choice but to take countermeasures.
The online war of words between the Chinese and U.S. embassies in Cambodia started in February, with increasingly tense Sino-American exchanges over the gap of trade balance between Cambodia and China and between Cambodia and the U.S.
In a Facebook post in April, the U.S. said China is Cambodia’s largest trade partner, but this relationship is heavily skewed in China’s favor. At least 87 percent of trade are Chinese imports, which do not support jobs or industry in the same way that Cambodia’s trade relationship with the United States or EU does.
But Wang’s letter on June 15 noted that Cambodia is lucky because it has continued cooperation with China to protect multilateral trade policies, unlike the U.S. that uses trade protectionism policy to suppress its counterpart.
“China and Cambodia continue to retain the long-term political trust and Cambodia will continue retaining mutual belief with good friendship in all sectors of political cooperation, promoting the development of the two countries,” Wang said.
Wang’s remarks, however, were immediately rejected by the U.S. embassy in Cambodia.
Arend Zwartjes, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy, told VOA Khmer in an email on Monday that the U.S. is one of the world’s freest and most open economies, blaming China for disrespecting its obligations set by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“In contrast, China has pursued a conscious industrial strategy that has favored Chinese companies over foreign ones, ignored WTO obligations, failed to protect foreign intellectual property, and forced the transfer of, or stolen, technology,” wrote Zwartjes.
The spokesperson added that the U.S. commits to using all available tools to level the playing field for U.S. businesses, and persuade China to make real changes at the negotiating table.
The United States is about fairness and reciprocity and encouraging an open and transparent rules-based system, Zwartjes said.