By Jon Dougherty
As Thursday progressed, there were a number of reports regarding the U.S.-China trade negotiations that were allegedly close to being completed but then derailed after Beijing reportedly changed terms of the deal less than a week ago.
It’s difficult to get a straight story from just one source, let alone from the fake news factories in the United States. So we’ve managed to piece together an increasingly likely summary of events based on mostly foreign reporting, with some American sources tossed in for good measure.
As for claims by the Trump administration that, indeed, it was Beijing, not Washington, that reneged on previously agreed upon portions of the deal,Â Reuters seems to have confirmed that. The Britain-based newswire reportedÂ that the Chinese communists sent an edited version of the original trade agreement to emissaries in Washington late last week:
The diplomatic cable from Beijing arrived in Washington late on Friday night, with systematic edits to a nearly 150-page draft trade agreement that would blow up months of negotiations between the worldâ€™s two largest economies, according to three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources briefed on the talks.
Two days later, POTUS Donald Trump tweeted that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent by midnight Friday (tomorrow).
For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday. 325 Billions Dollars….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2019
The document was riddled with reversals by China that undermined core U.S. demands, the sources told Reuters.
In each of the seven chapters of the draft trade deal, China had deleted its commitments to change laws to resolve core complaints that caused the United States to launch a trade war: Theft of U.S. intellectual property and trade secrets; forced technology transfers; competition policy; access to financial services; and currency manipulation.
U.S. President Donald Trump responded inÂ a tweet on Sunday vowing to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent on Friday â€“ timed to land in the middle of a scheduled visit by Chinaâ€™s Vice Premier Liu He to Washington to continue trade talks.
According to theÂ South China Morning Post, China denied that it changed any part of the agreement and ‘vowed’ to ‘defend itself’ against the Trump administration’s pressure:
“The US has assigned a lot of labels, such as backtracking, going back on oneâ€™s word, and so on. Lots of [broken] promises have been foisted on China,â€ said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng. â€œChina is committed and has kept its promises, and this has never changed.â€
He added: â€œNegotiation is a process of exchanging opinions and reaching consensus. It is normal to have different views.”
A short while later, SCMP published a story noting that POTUS Trump says Chinese President Xi Jinping sent him a “beautiful letter” seeking to “work things out” prior to Friday’s midnight deadline (as Xi’s trade negotiator Liu arrives in D.C.), intimating that a deal may happen after all:
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that a trade deal with China is â€œpossibleâ€ this week and that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping sent him a â€œbeautiful letterâ€, in comments that contrasted with several hard-line tweets over the past week.
Speaking to reporters just as Vice-Premier Liu He arrived in Washington for an 11th round of negotiations aimed at ending a trade war between the worldâ€™s two largest economies, Trump suggested his order to raise tariffs on US$200 billion of imports from China had helped to speed up the reconciliation process.
â€œWe put the tariffs on, we made the statement, and then they upped the meeting. â€˜How about letâ€™s go back to Thursday?â€™,â€ the president said after claiming Chinese negotiators suggested a delay in talks until a later date.
â€œSo I have no idea whatâ€™s going to happen,â€ POTUS added. â€œI did get last night very beautiful letter from President Xi [saying] â€˜Letâ€™s work together, letâ€™s see if we can get something done.â€™
â€œI like the president a lot. Heâ€™s a good friend of mine, but Iâ€™m representing the USA and heâ€™s representing China, and weâ€™re not going to be taken advantage of anymore.â€
He added that his team was â€œstarting the paperworkâ€ to raise tariffs to 25 percent on hundreds of billions of Chinese goods.
On Wednesday, POTUS said on Twitter that the Chinese were seeking a delay in negotiations hoping that they’d get to ‘negotiate’ with a President Joe Biden after the 2020 election and, thus, be able to continue business as usual — a $500-billion-plus annual trade deficit with the U.S.
The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to “negotiate” with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
….Guess what, that’s not going to happen! China has just informed us that they (Vice-Premier) are now coming to the U.S. to make a deal. We’ll see, but I am very happy with over $100 Billion a year in Tariffs filling U.S. coffers…great for U.S., not good for China!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
This all makes perfect sense. China would want to return to a time, pre-Donald Trump, when a pliable U.S. administration (that would be Obama-Biden, and before them, George Bush) were more than willing to continue allowing the Chinese to drain the U.S. economy year after year after year.
Biden, especially, given his son’s ties to China’s leadership, as we recently documented in our Obama-Biden Scandal Series:
We’ll see if a deal gets done; it may or may not. But clearly, the Chinese must now understand they’re not dealing with a ‘typical American president,’ they’re dealing with a POTUS on a mission to make America great again.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10