Over the past few weeks, there have been some stories in the press about growing dismay in China as they discovered Trump was really serious about re-negotiating trade deals. China’s leader Xi Jinping has been forced to accept the brunt of the blame for what some Chinese see as a botched response to Trump’s tariffs.
Chinese and U.S. negotiators are mapping out talks to try to end their trade standoff ahead of planned meetings between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at multilateral summits in November, said officials in both nations.
The planning represents an effort on both sides to keep a deepening trade dispute—which already has involved tariffs on billions of dollars of goods and could target hundreds of billions of dollars more—from torpedoing the U.S.-China relationship and shaking global markets.
Scheduled midlevel talks in Washington next week, which both sides announced on Thursday, will pave the way for November. A nine-member delegation from Beijing, led by Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, will meet with U.S. officials led by the Treasury undersecretary, David Malpass, on Aug. 22-23.
The negotiations are aimed at finding a way for both sides to address the trade disputes, the officials said, and could lead to more rounds of talks.
The talks represent a clear move by Beijing to get relations with Washington back on track that were cordial early in the Trump presidency and involved coordination to rein in North Korea. Those relations have soured, especially after Mr. Trump’s initial tariffs on Chinese imports, which he said were designed to punish Beijing for alleged intellectual-property violations and technology theft. The resulting tit-for-tat of trade threats and retaliation has hit China’s currency and stock markets.
The talks, though, could also get derailed, especially as the U.S. continues to levy tariffs. So far the U.S. has imposed levies on $34 billion in Chinese goods, with tariffs on an additional $16 billion in goods scheduled to take effect next week. China has matched those tariffs dollar-for-dollar.
While China is a threat to the US, it’s clear from Xi’s behavior that they are not yet ready or prepared to confront us directly. Assuming Trump can hold on past the November Congressional elections, I expect to see the Chinese pull in their horns some for the next few years while they wait for other opportunities (or really, other presidencies) to get aggressive.