China Faces New ‘Long March’ as Trade War Intensifies, Xi Jinping Says



Alexandra Stevenson | New York Times

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping of China has called for the Chinese people to begin a modern “long march,” invoking a time of hardship from the country’s history as it braces for a protracted trade war with the United States.

Mr. Xi’s call, made on Monday, referred to the Long March, a grueling 4,000-mile, one-year journey undertaken by Communist Party forces in 1934 as they fled the Nationalist army under Chiang Kai-shek. From there, they regrouped and eventually took control of China in 1949, making the Long March one of the party’s foundational legends.

The comments appear intended to stir the spirit of the Chinese people as the Trump administration continues to press China on trade. But they also seem to acknowledge that the Chinese public could face difficult times ahead. The tariffs come as Beijing tries to lift the economy out of a slowdown, and as a variety of unrelated factors raise the prices of basic food items like pork and fruit for the average Chinese shopper.

Speaking at the site of the start of the Long March in Jiangxi Province, Mr. Xi told a crowd of cheering locals that “now there is a new long march, and we should make a new start.”

He did not mention the trade war directly, and Mr. Xi has used the term “the new Long March” in speeches before to exhort officials, military officials or ordinary citizens to follow his policies. But the visit, broadcast on state-run television on Tuesday, came as tensions flare between the world’s two biggest economies. Among the officials with Mr. Xi was Liu He, his chief economic adviser and top trade negotiator.

On Wednesday, Mr. Xi told another audience in Jiangxi that the country “must be conscious of the long-term and complex nature of various unfavorable factors at home and abroad, and properly prepare for the various difficult situations.”

The trade war shows little sign of letting up. In the latest move, the Trump administration is considering placing a Chinese company called Hikvision on a list that would limit its ability to procure American technology like chips and software to meet its needs. The company, which provides equipment for China’s growing surveillance state, said in a statement on Wednesday that it “has never in the past done any business that requires us to violate human rights.”

At a daily news briefing on Wednesday, Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, “China opposes the U.S. practice of abusing state power and arbitrarily discrediting and suppressing foreign enterprises, including Chinese enterprises.”

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