President Trump has taken the leverage of economics to levels of geopolitical strategy never seen before. Nowhere is the genius strategy more clear than in the way Trump positioned the trade reset and confrontation with China.
In hindsight every move since early 2017 including: (1) the warm welcome of Chairman Xi Jinping to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate; (2) the vociferous praise poured upon Xi; (3) the November 2017 tour of Asia; (4) the direct engagement with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un; the strategic relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; and a host of smaller nuanced moves have been quietly building toward a conclusion.
The upcoming G-20 summit is the last chance for Trump and Xi to reconcile considerable differences and President Trump has the strongest strategic position any Chinese official has ever faced.
After Beijing walked away from previous agreements between USTR Robert Lighthizer and Vice-Premier Liu He, Trump initiated a series of punishing economic consequences that had to have been well planned in advance.
The economy in China is reeling from the pressure being applied by President Trump; and stunningly it has only been a little over a month since the consequence phase began…
Beijing responded by … making threats against any enterprise that would walk away from business engagement with China. The totalitarian response worsened the situation and more companies have announced their intent to decouple from Beijing.
The important aspect missed by most observers is the ideology and outlook within any Chinese engagement. Quite simply, if it does not benefit China it is not done…
Ultimately this is the reason why the negotiated agreement by Lighthizer and Vice-Premier He was dismissed by Beijing and talks collapsed. China will not cede already attained position.
However, in advance of the G20 Summit in Japan, President Trump has positioned Chairman Xi in a lose/lose dynamic. This forces the outlook of Beijing into an incredible state of internal anxiety. Only President Donald Trump could have achieved this position, is really is remarkable and is noted within this Bloomberg article:
(Bloomberg) “By now, Xi Jinping is used to Donald Trump’s tariff threats. But the U.S. president’s latest ultimatum is personal, and the Chinese leader’s response could have far-reaching consequences for his political future.
Trump on Monday said he could impose tariffs “much higher than 25%” on $300 billion in Chinese goods if Xi doesn’t meet him at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Japan…
The brinkmanship puts Xi — China’s strongest leader in decades — in perhaps the toughest spot of his six-year presidency.
If Xi caves to Trump’s threats, he risks looking weak at home. If he declines the meeting, he must accept the economic costs that come with Trump possibly extending the trade conflict through the 2020 presidential elections.
“Whether they meet or not, none of the possible scenarios are good for President Xi or the economy in the long run,” said Zhang Jian, an associate professor at Peking University. “You don’t have a good choice which can meet the needs of the Chinese economy or Mr. Xi’s political calculations.”
Read that again carefully….
That is what you call a Lose/Lose scenario.
China NEVER faces lose/lose situations. The Chinese culture doesn’t even have a frame of reference for a position that includes ‘less losing’ amid better options.
For President Trump to have navigated Chairman Xi into such a position is the pinnacle of strategic success. In the long history of western engagement with Beijing it has never happened, ever.
President Trump is now playing with Chairman Xi like a mouse in a maze.
Trump wants to go to the full confrontation position. Donald J Trump has been talking about this for thirty years. Additionally, for the past two years he has strategically laid the groundwork and aligned the allies needed for this final confrontation. President Trump is looking for an excuse to apply the scale of tariffs on China that will crush their U.S. export business – and – force them into massive state subsidies to retain their manufacturing model such that they will have to retract from preexisting global financial obligations.
President Trump has threatened more tariffs and more consequential action as it relates to non-tariff barriers, IP protection, forced technology transfers etc. As a result of China reneging on the prior agreement, Trump has put Chairman Xi under threat. Beijing’s traditional and cultural position would be no-meeting or discussions while under threats.
However, as a baseline disposition President Trump doesn’t want Xi Jinping to meet with him. That ‘slight’ is the opening Trump can exploit to crush his adversary.
So what does President Trump do? While the threat and punishment looms, he levels massive amounts of praise upon Chairman Xi making the pressure almost unbearable.
Chairman Xi cannot meet with President Trump or that reverses the dismissive position previously outlined by Beijing when they rebuked the earlier agreement. However, if Xi refuses the G20 meeting he will be allowing President Trump to collapse his economy.
Worse still, Beijing cannot fall-back on shooting missiles from their proxy province of North Korea to attain leverage and negotiating position… because President Trump has already blunted their historic approach by meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un.
Oh, the G20 is going to be epic.
…and LOL, the G20 is on Trump’s home ASEAN turf, Japan, with Trump’s good friend and golf partner Prime Minister Abe.
WAIT!!! I thought this Wharton Business School Master’s Degree holder billionaire was a Dummy!!???
He’s been talking about this with China for HOW MANY YEARS??
Just because he talks in the common vernacular doesn’t mean he is an unthinking oaf!
He speaks so the common man can understand him. He tweets to bypass the MSM liberal bias filters. Ronald Reagan taught him that!!
Sorry folks, this is all thought out and planned! Sure, unexpected events and opportunities arise. But the constant negative MISinterpretation of things by the Dems and MSM (I repeat myself!) is working to his BENEFIT with the populace he is talking to!!
I give Trump a lot of credit for having the perseverance and political courage to tow the tough line on China. It has been a revelation to me to see how easily SOME Americans are ready to throw in the towel because there are economic casualties in the short run. I see no difference between this situation and a war to protect American interests that involves the unfortunate loss of life. You can’t defeat a serious threat without some short-term sacrifice, but spoiled Americans don’t have the balls for it, if you’ll excuse my bluntness. The leftists commenting on Fox News cry about subsidies to assist farmers taking the brunt of the trade fight. These are the SAME people who are fine with using our tax dollars to support deadbeats or abortions, yet they cry about spreading the cost of this critical fight to all Americans via the subsidies. That’s no different than refusing to make any sacrifice when soldiers are risking their lives on the battlefield, IMO.
I will again not go so far as to praise Trump’s “genius” before I see the outcome, and because I believe he’s had a lot of help from other smart people in pursuing this strategy and they too deserve credit. But I hope he comes out of it with a great trade deal that keeps the stock market rolling and gives him a strong hand to play in 2020.
I haven’t kept up with this like some of the other issues, but I look forward to seeing how this turns out and how Xi responds. Good stuff, Curtis!