Why the US is more anxious for a trade deal than China

By Yu Jincui (Global Times, 19 July 2019) – Which side, Washington or Beijing, is more anxious to reach a deal to end the damaging trade war that has lasted over a year? It’s clear the answer is the US, after President Donald Trump tried to paint China as the losing side in the prolonged trade war on Twitter Monday.

Let’s take a look at how the US-launched trade war against China has impacted the US economy. The trade war is pushing the US rural economy toward a full-blown meltdown. US manufacturing is sinking into recession and the country’s debt is about to hit a record. There have been an increasing number of reports on Western media about damage the trade war has caused, saying consumers, farmers and manufacturers are all victims. All these show that the US is facing mounting pressure to end the trade war with China.

Trump’s tweets are actually indicative of US desire to exert pressure on China for a trade deal. Although China-US trade talks have been “back on track” since a highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June, it’s too early to say if a trade deal could eventually be reached. 

Both China and the US want to end the trade war. But China apparently is calmer than the US. The US ignited the trade war in the first place. Despite Trump’s declaration that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” the reality is that the US is feeling increasing pain from the trade war. 

There is a consensus in the US to get tough on China, but opinions differ on whether the US should resort to a trade war. The longer the trade war lasts, the more the US economy will suffer. 

Consequently, the Trump administration will face more domestic opposition against its trade policy, casting a shadow on the prospects of reelection in 2020. 

Of course, the trade war is also hurting China, but China is able to endure it. Although the Chinese economy is facing downward pressure, it is carrying out unprecedented economic restructuring and reform, which will increase the potential for economic development. The GDP growth rate in the second quarter was 6.2 percent despite the trade war, which proves that China is able to withstand the trade war. 

Over the past rounds of talks, the US was supposed to have felt China’s endurance on economic challenges as well as its firmness and resolve in not yielding to pressure. China’s confidence is bolstered up by its economic momentum and institutional advantage. 

China has repeatedly said it is sincere in holding trade talks with the US, but won’t accept a deal that would constrain its development. Future trade negotiations are expected to be conducted on equal footing and take into account each side’s reasonable concerns.

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