What Caused the U.S.-China Trade War?

Wendy Cutler on PBS's Frontline

Wendy Cutler

ASPI Vice President Wendy Cutler appeared on a special episode of NPR's Frontline about the drivers of the U.S.-China trade war. Cutler shares her experience as a U.S. Trade Representative fielding complaints from U.S. companies about Chinese business practices following China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization. The following is a transcript of her remarks (beginning at 31:52).

Wendy Cutler: Companies would come in and complain, they’d have great information, but—“oh, by the way, you can’t use any of this—but solve our problem.” And so, that was always a challenge.

Laura Sullivan: Why did that make it harder?

Wendy Cutler: It made it harder because you couldn’t really prove your case.

Laura Sullivan: So you saw the U.S. business community not only say, “don’t use my name,” but they would say, to your office and to the administration, “we don’t even want you raising this issue too loudly.” Because if you raise this too loudly…

Wendy Cutler: They’re going to think it’s us, and we will be hurt.

Laura Sullivan: And they had too much money at stake.

Wendy Cutler: They had a lot of money at stake.

Laura Sullivan: How did that—sort of having your hands tied behind your back in a way—how did that affect, in the long run, the U.S. position against China?

Wendy Cutler: Yeah, it probably emboldened China a bit, right? Because as more and more problems came up, individual companies were very spooked and didn’t want to visibly be associated with any strong action by the U.S. government.

Watch the full episode.

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