Trump and Xi Jinping on G20: Who Wins?

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a long-awaited meeting at the G20 summit in Osaka. The central theme is the settlement of trade contradictions. Whose arguments were more serious and who leaves Japan in a good mood?

With the meeting of Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, the international community had high expectations. Some economists have argued that the US president will increase pressure on China and will require large concessions. After all, before the G20 summit, Washington threatened to impose Chinese goods with new and unprecedented duties, and also introduced technological and economic sanctions against telecommunications giant Huawei.

Other economists said that the sanctions against Huawei are a trump card in Xi Jinping’s hands, who will declare the lifting of restrictions on this company a necessary condition for any trade deal with the United States.

Washington also argues that the reason for the new threats against Beijing was the non-observance by the Chinese of a number of conditions allegedly agreed upon earlier. China denies all charges. Among the claims from the United States is the theft of American intellectual property and cyber attacks on companies.

However, both parties understand that a bargain in any form is necessary. The US and China are now under pressure from the international community, global financial institutions, which declare that the continuation of a trade war will lead to global losses for absolutely everyone. Therefore, the minimum task of both parties was to agree on at least something and at the same time save face. However, in the current negotiations there is still a winner and a loser.

Very good negotiations

The most important result of the 80-minute talks between Trump and Xi Jinping: the United States refuses, for an indefinite period of time, to impose additional fees of $ 350 billion. Washington is doing this in order to “continue negotiations from where they left off.” According to Trump, in return, China will sharply increase imports of American agricultural products. The US president called the meeting “magnificent” and noted that countries are on the right track.

The US President noted that the most important thing is the continuation of negotiations, the quality of which is more important for him than speed. “I’m not in a hurry, but everything looks very good,” Trump added and said that for the time being there will be no reduction in the existing trade duties for China.

The Chinese side, meanwhile, assessed such results as an undoubted victory of Xi Jinping. So, Xinhua victoriously notes: “The United States says that they WILL NOT introduce new duties on Chinese exports anymore.”

At the same time, most Chinese media and experts point out that Xi did not guarantee Trump that China would increase imports of agricultural products from the United States, but promised to “think” about this, just as the United States “thinks” about what a delay 350 billion dollars.

And, of course, the main factor is sanctions against Huawei. Trump, as predicted by American analysts, backed off and surrendered its positions in this matter.

Here it should be recalled and noted that the imposition of sanctions against Huawei caused a wave of indignation among American companies that work closely with a Chinese corporation. Exactly the same way, more than a year have been suffered by American farmers, who suffer losses because of China’s response in a trade war. Therefore, Trump made a step towards American technology companies and farmers, however, having received dubious benefits at this stage, suffered political losses.

Just a day before the meeting of Trump and Xi Jinping, Chinese officials told American journalists that the Chinese leader would demand that the US President lift sanctions against Huawei. It is noteworthy that, it turns out, they were also informed in advance in the US Congress, where they promised Trump a warm welcome if he takes at least a step back in the Huawei case. And he did.

Of course, you can look at the situation from the other side. Trump announced sanctions against Huawei, which scared China and a number of companies in the United States, and then deftly used this as an argument to force Beijing to increase agricultural purchases.

However, victory is a result, not a word. And while there are no US duties, as there is no increase in purchases of agricultural products by China, and sanctions against Huawei cannot be lifted, since they were not really introduced, although the threat was real.

Paradoxically, in the United States and China, the negotiations were assessed as an obvious victory for Xi Jinping. American officials cannot believe that Trump, who called Huawei a threat to national security, so easily admitted that there would be no sanctions against it.

If we sum up the negotiations, Xi Jinping can write off as an asset the lifting of sanctions against Huawei and Trump’s consent not to introduce new duties for $ 350 billion.

What can trump boast? He only achieved China’s agreement to continue negotiations and received assurances that Beijing will be able to increase the purchase of agricultural products (neither Beijing nor the White House has yet reported on the parameters).

When comparing these achievements, the current “quasi-deal” does not look equal. It is obvious that the meeting was based on the script of Xi Jinping, who wanted to play the Huawei card and did it. Trump also received the notorious “continuation of negotiations from the place where they broke off.” So, as if they were interrupted by China, although, as we know, Trump himself a month ago accused Beijing of failing to comply with the agreements, canceled the negotiations and began to threaten with sanctions. So the argument about the continuation of negotiations is a Pyrrhic victory.

This also points to the fact that the continuation of the negotiations was much more necessary for Trump than for Xi Jinping. Before the leaders’ meeting, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, almost directly placed the United States responsible for the lack of negotiations with China and expressed concern that Washington instead of a dialogue is moving towards new threats on duties and Huawei.

Chinese officials and the press greeted Xi Jinping as a victor. But Trump, “stuck” in South Korea, expects a very big barrage of criticism, although this time the US president did take a step towards Beijing and tried to reach an agreement.


By E. Coachman
Source: Katehon