Reform and trade success in other areas must not stop just because Washington and Beijing are not getting along.
In the latest development of the U.S.-China trade war, President Donald Trump is threatening to slap new tariffs on goods from China if President Xi Jinping doesn’t show at the G-20 Summit in Japan later this month.
If a Trump-Xi side summit can be arranged, it could be a good thing. But restarting trade talks shouldn’t be the focus—or even the highlight—of events in Osaka.
Prospects for a breakthrough in relations between the world’s two largest economies are remote. Two years of meetings between Washington and Beijing have been fruitless, and even public statements remain general and broad.
Another sit-down between Trump and Xi may simply replay their meeting in Buenos Aires last year. A summit might well produce another general statement saying the two sides will restart negotiations (hopefully in good faith). Perhaps President Trump would decide to hold off on applying new tariffs to $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, so long as negotiations continue to be productive. He’s already indicated he’ll hold off until after the meeting in Osaka.
Whether negotiations can continue to be productive, however, is a whole other question.
Luckily, there is much more to talk about at the G-20 than Washington and Beijing’s disputes. Additionally, it is fair to assume that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will do his utmost to make sure that some ground is covered.
Abe has every interest in not allowing the G-20 to be overshadowed by Trump-Xi side-talks. Not with his sun-setting political career. Not when this is Japan’s first hosting of the G-20 summit. Not when the Prime Minister hosted President Trump over the long Memorial Day weekend. And not with up-coming Upper House elections, and a possible snap-election, in Japan.
The National Interest
1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)