Conventional wisdom is that both presidents face strong populist pressures against making a deal. For U.S. President Donald Trump, hardliners fear that he might compromise to boost his re-election chances. For Chinese President Xi Jinping, proposals for resolving tensions revive historic emotions about kowtowing to the West. But the uncertainty lies more in the incoherence of the package being negotiated, with key objectives being either illogical or contradictory.
Washington’s demands are driven by three constituents with differing objectives. Trump is obsessed with America’s huge bilateral trade deficits and wants Beijing to buy more. The U.S. business community is concerned about China’s restrictive foreign investment policies. For Washington’s security establishment and politicians, this is all about China as an existential threat to America as the dominant global power.
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