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Fox vs CGTN: Key Moments from the Trade War Debate Between Trish Regan and Liu Xin

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In an unexpected TV spectacle, Fox Business’ Trish Regan faced off against Liu Xin of Chinese State broadcaster CGTN on Wednesday night (8pm ET; 8am Thursday morning Beijing time). The two had pledged to hold an “honest debate” concerning the trade war between the US and China after an online spat that featured accusations of “misinformation” and “spitting fire”.

Taking place against a backdrop of Robert Mueller’s statement on investigations into President Trump and Chinese State media’s warnings about escalating the trade war via restrictions on rare earth minerals, the conversation aired on Fox after Liu offered to debate Regan “on your turf”.

Liu cited “rights issues” for the segment not being simulcast on CGTN or the network’s domestic arm CCTV and wrote on Twitter that, “given the short notice, I’ll have to do it via satellite from our BJ studio”. Nevertheless, a quick hunt on China’s main search engine Baidu revealed a host of links for streaming the interview that Regan billed as one that “all of China seems to be talking about” — many boasting that viewers would not need a VPN for access (something internet users in China would require to access CGTN’s live tweeting of the debate).

We’ve highlighted some of the key moments and reactions to the discussion below. For a recap of how this slightly odd event came to be, check out our previous post on the Fox-CCTV trade war debate here:

Fox and CCTV Anchors to “Debate” Amid Trade War Tensions

The Key Quotes

The Niceties

Regan: “She and I may not agree on everything, but this is a unique opportunity. An opportunity to hear a different view. It’s helpful to hear what China is thinking about the trade war and the US. My guest is part of the CCP and that’s fine — I welcome different views on this show.”

Liu: “I need to correct something. I have to get it straight — I am not a member of the Communist Party of China and I don’t speak for the Communist Party.”

On the Trade War

Liu: “The Chinese government has made its position very clear: unless the US treat the negotiation team with respect […] there is not a high possibility of a trade deal.”

Regan: “Trade wars are never good. I wanna believe that something can get done.”

On Intellectual Property Theft

Regan: “There is evidence that China has stolen intellectual property.”

Liu: “Many American companies have been founded in China and have been very profitable, and the great majority plan to stay and explore the market. I do not deny there are copyright issues or piracy or even theft of commercial secrets — I think that has to be dealt with. Without the protection of IP rights, no country, no individual can develop themselves. […] There are companies in the United States that sue each other all the time [over such issues].”

Liu, in response to Regan asking about forced technology transfer: “If you pay for the use of this technology, why not? We all prosper because we learn from each other. I think that’s fine so long as it’s not illegal.”

Regan: “We all need to play by the rules if we’re going to have that kind of trust.”

On China’s Developing Nation Status

Liu: “You ask why don’t you just grow up? We want to grow up, we don’t want to be dwarfed or poor or under-developed. But don’t forget we have 1.4 billion people, over three times the population of the United States. People are looking upon us to do much more around the world and we’re doing that […] because we know we have to grow up and Trish, thank you for your reminder.”

On Tariffs

Regan: “Why don’t we just get rid of tariffs?”

Liu: “I think that would be a wonderful idea. I think we should work towards that. But you talked about a rule-based system; if you want to change the rules, it has to be done through mutual consensus. It’s not just about US and China. It’s a very complicated settlement to reach.”

On China’s Economic Model

Regan: “How do you define State capitalism? Your system of economics is very interesting.”

Liu: “We would like to define it as ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, where market forces play the dominant role in allocation of resources. We want it to be a market economy but there are some Chinese characteristics — there are some State enterprises that are playing an important but decreasing role in the economy. Not everything is State-run. We’re very, very open as well.”

Regan: “You need to keep being open. Then you get a win-win. No one wants a trade war but we have to think carefully about next steps.”

The Reaction

Both presenters referred to the segment as “unprecedented” in the build-up, and it was certainly fascinating to see a Chinese State TV anchor given such a platform on a mainstream US network. Liu was very keen to stress that she spoke only for herself, but she was also able to put across a number of key Party talking points on the trade disagreements without much of a challenge from Regan.

In the immediate aftermath, Liu was interviewed by her own network and stated that she hoped her words would sink in with US audiences:

Regan meanwhile, led with Liu’s admission that Chinese companies had engaged in IP theft, though she also wrote on Twitter that she felt it had been a “productive conversation”.

Emily Rauhala, former China correspondent at the Washington Post, noted:

Chinese State-run paper Global Times, seemed pretty happy with how it’d gone:

But numerous Chinese users complained that the segment was “more like an interview than a debate”, with many posting GIFs of what they had expected versus the reality:

cat fight seesaw cctv cgtn fox

Despite the civil tone of the “debate”, a trending hashtag on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo complained that “In less than 30 seconds, Regan interrupted Liu 3 times”. Both parties acknowledging a tricky satellite delay on the line at the top of the conversation.

Chinese magazine Beijing Review felt it was a one-sided conversation:

Beijing Review trade war trish regan liu xinWhile DW News‘s William Yang noted:

Watch the “Debate”

Fox were quick to get the video up online. If you want to watch it back, you can follow the link to their site below:

RADII China
China from all angles.

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