China's Vice Premier Liu He (L) and US President Donald Trump wait with others for a meeting between US and Chinese officials in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski

Fresh off what proved to be a stinging political defeat for Donald Trump in an immigration policy fight with Democrats, the US president is in desperate need for a “win.” Judging from his recent comments, he is gearing up to sell a trade deal with China as just that.

But amid furious lobbying efforts from much of the business community for ending the costly tariff battle, there are potentially equal and opposite forces building that could derail a trade deal widely expected to come out of current talks.

Vice-Premier Liu He arrived in Washington on Monday, leading a delegation that will continue negotiations on Thursday. President Trump reiterated that the March 1 deadline to come to an agreement is not set in stone, saying Monday that it is “not a magical date.”

Unless Liu is bringing new, more substantial concessions on core “structural” issues, calls for Trump to abandon ship and increase tariffs will grow deafeningly loud in some circles. That includes among conservative media commentators who have proven successful in changing Trump’s mind in the past.

The same vicious circle helped propel Trump to force a government shutdown on the immigration issue, against the advice of most in his own party.

“It would be better to hit Beijing with higher tariffs and wait for them to come to us with a better deal in a second Trump term; a distinct possibility since China needs trade with America far more than we need it with them,” a Fox News editorial argued on Sunday after Trump trumpeted the “big progress being made on soooo many different fronts!” in trade talks.

Well known to be Trump’s favorite news outlet, Fox News was quick to criticize Trump’s failure to negotiate a better deal with Democrats on funding for a border wall.

The poster child for China hawks in Washington, Gordon Chang, wrote that “there was virtually no progress on ‘structural’ issues in the just-concluded U.S.-China trade talks in Beijing, and unfortunately there won’t be any unless President Donald Trump decides to walk away from the ongoing negotiations.”

Perhaps more disconcerting for those who are worried that a deal might fall apart is the fact that even free-traders have begun to express anxiety that Trump might pass up an opportunity to pressure China.

“Without enforcement, this deal fails,” Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the US-China Chamber of Commerce said in an interview with CNBC. “Implementation and enforcement are going to be two key elements – so you need to have implementation, you need to have follow-through, but you need to have enforcement mechanisms that will ensure that both sides have trust that this deal is sustaining and verifiable.”

But  the answer as to what kind of a binding enforcement mechanism will be palatable to China remains elusive.

One thing is for certain, Trump has shown a willingness to back out of deals at the last minute.

At least once last spring, before the implementation of the first tranche of tariffs on Chinese goods, it appeared that a deal had been struck with China. That deal looked a lot like what has been reported of Chinese concessions in this deal so far.

Another example could be seen in the recent immigration debate in Washington, when Trump gave the Senate the green light to vote on a spending bill – which they passed unanimously – only to go back and say he won’t support anything without more funding for a border wall.

Trump has hinted that he may be willing to accept a deal that sees China buy more US products and make some cosmetic changes that can be sold as “structural” reforms. It is anyone’s guess how he will react to the swift backlash such a deal would provoke.

Join the Conversation


  1. I do accept as true with all the ideas you’ve offered in your
    post. They are really convincing and can certainly work.
    Still, the posts are too short for newbies. May you please lengthen them a little from next time?

    Thanks for the post.

  2. I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!!

    I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you bookmarked to look at new stuff
    you post…

  3. My brother suggested I might like this website.

    He was totally right. This post actually made my day.
    You can not imagine just how much time I had spent
    for this information! Thanks!

  4. I am really thankful to the owner of this website who has shared this wonderful paragraph
    at at this place.

  5. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your site.
    You have some really great articles and I think I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d
    love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for
    a link back to mine. Please blast me an email if interested.
    Thank you!

  6. This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job.

    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  7. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of
    your great post. Also, I have shared your site in my
    social networks! pof natalielise

  8. Good day! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa?
    My blog discusses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think
    we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free
    to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Terrific blog by the way!

  9. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and engaging,
    and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently
    about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something concerning this.

  10. I have learn some just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting.
    I wonder how a lot attempt you place to create this sort of fantastic
    informative site.

  11. It is in reality a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  12. of course like your website however you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts.
    Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very
    bothersome to inform the reality however I’ll surely come back again.

Leave a comment