- China commentator Bill Bishop reckons that while Trump has put the right man on point to deal with China, the bigger picture is simpler — in the last month President Xi has been shuttling around the world building relationships, and President Trump has not.
While the two sides gave three cheers for the "highly successful" discussions in Buenos Aires, a slow realization has dawned on policy wonks and crept into markets alike: no one really knows the specifics of the deal Trump and Xi arrived at over the weekend.
"Max out our economic power"
Asian markets had not risen and fallen as vigorously as Wall Street, post-G20, which took the brunt of the president's disorienting tweetstorm on Tuesday, when he at once thanked his Chinese counterpart for a "wonderful and very warm dinner" and in the next tweet-breath railed of impending and unilateral trade blows.
Earlier, the president pointedly warned, "I am a Tariff Man."
"When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so," Trump also tweeted. "It will always be the best way to max out our economic power."
via Chinese broadcaster CGTN, China's English-language facing broadcaster, suggests the extent to which China is playing two distinct narratives on what went on in Argentina to two very different audiences.
Short lived optimism
The sweet but short-lived optimism that followed the G20 ceasefire has now receded on a tide of doubt, and any trust in the Buenos Aires meeting has really been in a state of withering decline from the moment both sides triumphantly released vastly differing and contradictory accounts of the meeting's outcomes.
As Bloomberg points out, as soon as the
he Chinese side did not even bother to mention the headline 90-day delay in tariff escalation lauded by the White House.
Rather than confirm the big time buy up of American agricultural products — like soy beans — and a lowering of Chinese tariffs on imports of American cars, China instead remained resolutely silent on the White House's two major selling points, all while the president tweets out his interpretation of the deal.
But which 90 days?
former Pentagon official Mike Pillsbury suggested to Axios' Jonathan Swan, that "there's a risk the deal will come undone."
"I have advised the president's team that for the past 40 years the American side avoids disclosing Chinese concessions before the final agreed written statement is released," Pillsbury warned.
But its not all bad news according to China Watcher and Sinocism publisher Bill Bishop, who lauded the appointment of US trade representative Robert
To better understand why Trump has placed the top US trade rep at the head of the negotiating table, late last month Lighthizer released his latest damning update into what the USTR says is China's theft and manipulation of US intellectual property, its unwelcome technology transfers, and the ever-present trade in corporate secrets.
"Call him a hawk, or a realist, regardless he knows the issues cold and is unlikely to settle for a squishy deal, unless his boss does," Bishop said.