US President Donald Trump issued three tweets Wednesday morning (ET). He criticized the "false stories" that have emerged about his recent thoughts on Chinese telecommunication giant ZTE. The tweets also revealed Trump's intention to win the US an advantage on the current negotiations between Washington and the visiting Chinese trade delegation.
"We have not seen China's demands yet, which should be few in that previous U.S. Administrations have done so poorly in negotiating. China has seen our demands. There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe," Trump said.
His third tweet continued, "…haven't even started yet! The U.S. has very little to give, because it has given so much over the years. China has much to give!"
If Trump's tweets are the result of pressure from US media opinion, then it is not important. But, if Trump is serious about his remarks and tells US officials to talk with China in such a manner, then it is likely the valuable time that was originally set aside for trade dialogue will go to waste.
The visiting delegation from Beijing, led by Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy and Vice Premier Liu He, arrived in the US capital on Wednesday. Discussions on China-US trade disparities are soon to get underway. Two weeks ago, a DC trade delegation visited the Chinese capital for this latest round of renewed trade dialogue. While the US delegation was in China, both sides were able to reach agreements on some issues in their economic and trade consultations, but remained divided on some issues.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that his administration was working to get ZTE "back into business, fast," and was interpreted as a positive sign. US media and Congressional leaders are wondering what Trump's intentions are on such a move. Some have said that Trump is pressuring the White House and giving in to China, while others have speculated he is applying pressure on China, in an attempt to solicit further conditions for the ongoing trade negotiations.
A few points can be gleaned from the discussions. First, the Trump administration strongly wants to reach an agreement with China. Second, the US expects China to give more. Last but not least the White House administration has realized that applying pressure does not work, so a softer approach has been used in hopes that China will give more and meet US demands.
Washington has said they want to reach an agreement with China and avoid a trade war. This is a much friendlier gesture that China welcomes. However, if Washington stands behind Trump's words and really feels they have little to give while China has much to give, this would be the incorrect way to begin negotiations. Furthermore, China would never accept this kind of injustice.
The list of demands unveiled by the visiting US delegation two weeks ago not only sent shockwaves throughout Chinese social media, but also among the international news community. Many thought it was a sign revealing a lack US sincerity, even the British-run Financial Times slammed the list as a "destructive provocation."
If Washington remains steadfast over their original demands without altering them whatsoever, then China will not accept the deal, a move that would shock the global marketplace. A conclusion of this nature is not what the international community and trading partners want from the US side.
China understands the complexities between the US government and its domestic media, and how the former sometimes cleverly and in a stealth fashion uses the latter to communicate messages. However, Americans who understand the way China conducts business know that they do not use a smoke and mirrors approach. When China sets a bottom line it is always with the utmost sincerity.
If the White House wants to reach an agreement quickly, then it needs to drop its unreasonable demands that have even left economists stunned. Rather, the US should review its excessive requirements placed upon China and come up with a win-win solution for both sides.
The China-US trade talks are not tools for the US government to use so they can take advantage of China and help make America rich again. Nothing good could come from such behavior, and would only lead to dead ends.
Washington needs to lower US expectations over this round of trade discussions. Although many Americans hope the volume of exports to China will increase, few believe the US is suffering from an "economic invasion."
The White House should not promote the falsehood that China has deceived them to the tune of hundreds of billions annually. It is a narrative that continues to mislead the American populace and will cause greater problems for them later down the road.
It is sincerely hoped that the Chinese delegation can achieve favorable results on this trip. However, the Beijing trade team should not feel burdened to do so. China's vast market offers a level of confidence throughout the world where demand is highly sought after. Chinese society stands firmly with their government on trade issues, regardless of how big the difficulties and challenges may appear to be.