Spider-Man Makes Cameo in U.S.-China Trade Fray 

(Bloomberg) -- America’s top trade official in Geneva, Dennis Shea, lashed out on Wednesday at his Chinese counterpart, who used a reference to the Amazing Spider-Man to criticize the U.S.’s aggressive role in reshaping international trade policy.

Shea, who hails from the same New York neighborhood as the fictional Peter Parker -- Forest Hills, Queens -- said during a meeting at the World Trade Organization that it’s ironic for China to use Spider-Man’s most memorable catchphrase: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Spider-Man Makes Cameo in U.S.-China Trade Fray 

“China -- the world’s largest exporter and an economic heavyweight, insists on being treated in the WTO like a much poorer member while maintaining a regime that is fundamentally incompatible with the rules and principles of this organization,” said Shea, the U.S. ambassador to the WTO, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “China apparently believes its power comes with little or no responsibility.”

The comments came on the second day of the WTO’s biennial review of America’s trade policies, in which various countries criticized Donald Trump’s administration’s aggressive “America First” trade policy. Trump has agreed to put on hold a scheduled increase from 10 percent to 25 percent in tariffs on some $200 billion in imports from China while new negotiations take place through March 1.

On Monday, China’s WTO Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen referenced the superhero’s famous line in saying that the Trump administration has reversed American trade policy into one with “severe mismatched power and responsibility.”

Shea disagreed with Zhang’s superhero reference, saying the U.S. was being singled out for defending itself against unfair practices, and that you had to strip away the Chinese “jargon.”

“China will dump its products on our markets, claiming that all is OK because our consumers pay a bit less,” Shea said. “If the United States musters a response, we are abusing our power and acting irresponsibly. Rather, we should resign ourselves to nursing the wounds inflicted on our citizens. This is not acceptable.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.