Nikkei reported that the Chinese government on Thursday filed a suit with the WTO against the Trump administration’s imposition of hefty tariffs on Chinese and other foreign steel and aluminum imports, conjecturing that China is anxious to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Europe and Japan by playing up its willingness to comply with WTO rules. The daily said Beijing is wary of the possibility of Japan and the EU taking a concerted approach with the U.S. on the issue of protection of intellectual property in China. Other papers also took up China’s decision to take the case to the WTO.
Meanwhile, Asahi, Yomiuri, and Sankei highlighted press remarks made on Wednesday by a number of high-ranking USG officials, including White House Press Secretary Sanders, Commerce Secretary Ross, and National Economic Council Director Kudlow regarding the escalated trade friction between the U.S. and China. The dailies said these officials struck a rather conciliatory tone, apparently expressing hope that the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies will be resolved through dialogue. Sanders told the White House press corps that “it will be a couple months before tariffs on either side would go into effect and be implemented, and we’re hopeful that China will do the right thing.” Secretary Ross said: “It wouldn’t be surprising at all if the net outcome of all this is some sort of a negotiation.” Kudlow reportedly pointed out in a TV interview that “nothing concrete has actually happened” in terms of tariffs on Chinese products.