Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
US President Donald Trump softened his trade tone with China when he tweeted Sunday morning, "President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!"
Trump's latest China tweet revealed a lighter tone while being respectful to Chinese President Xi Jinping and China. Meanwhile, Trump's attitude on the Sino-US trade war is still vague.
Not only did Trump voice his expectations for China to "take down Trade Barriers," but also indicated the two countries make a deal on "Intellectual Property," seemingly proposing that both sides should take a step back.
Reducing the trade deficit and demanding that China respect US intellectual property are the two major points Washington has cited as reasons for the new trade war.
On April 4, Trump's stance on Sino-US trade relations was much harsher. In reference to the trade deficit and intellectual property concerns, Trump tweeted, "We cannot let this continue!"
Three renowned trade experts recently told Global Times they couldn't figure out the motivation behind the more polished language in Trump's latest trade tweet, and whether it indicates an attitude change on trade, or is a move aimed at alleviating recent stock market jitters and public discontent.
It is worth noting that China said recent negotiations among trade officials from both countries have not happened. This news alone caused panic throughout US investment communities.
Several major financial indexes have been falling since the China-US trade dispute first started to escalate. Meanwhile, Trump has faced criticism within the Republican Party, and opposition voices in the agriculture and automobile industries are getting louder - trends that are unfavorable to the White House.
All things considered, Washington did not expect such strong reaction from China following the Section 301 investigation into China's trade practices, which has caused incredible discomfort for the Trump administration.
The White House wanted to use the new tariffs as a way to pressure and sideline China. With the support of right-wing media, the Trump administration tried to create a narrative where negotiations were underway, and Beijing would succumb to US demands.
As the possibility of a China-US trade war increases, American pessimism is on the rise. It seems Trump is hoping to inspire the American public with his latest trade tweet.
In speaking with the Global Times, scholars have mentioned the multitude of information and opinions are part of America's political culture. Since the China-US trade friction began, part of Washington's tactic has been to change tones erratically, ranging from "war cry" to using a more careful language. However, we can conclude that Beijing's strategy by sticking to its principles regardless of room temperature has proven to be an effective strategy.
Many Westerners believe Beijing cares more about its image and reputation than anything else. The Chinese would like to step back, but only if a proper opportunity presents itself. In fact, as trade issues significantly impact China's future development, its interests remain the most important things to consider.
When it comes to resolving issues, establishing economic development has always been China's fundamental approach. Therefore, China's clear self-understanding will always find consistent support.
It is essential for the White House to adopt a fair attitude and understanding toward Sino-US trade. Furthermore, it is a transition that is expected from the business community and the public on both sides.