As we warned yesterday, about taking the propaganda of the Beijing panda mask…
Well, today President Trump pummels that narrative when he was asked about it during an impromptu press conference at the White House:
Q On China, can you tell me whether a tariff rollback will be part of the phase-one China deal?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they’d like to have a rollback. I haven’t agreed to anything. China would like to get somewhat of a rollback — not a complete rollback, because they know I won’t do it.
But we’re getting along very well with China. They want to make a deal. Frankly, they want to make a deal a lot more than I do. I’m very happy right now. We’re taking in billions of dollars. I’m very happy. China would like to make a deal much more than I would. (link)
Beijing is proposing acceptance of U.S. demands, but only if that acceptance also delivers a removal of the tariffs that created their diminished status.
USTR Lighthizer isn’t stupid, he’s not going to give back two-years of hard won position.
While they hate it, Beijing internally also understands the U.S. position, this is why they consider Trump such a formidable adversary.
So the latest position from Beijing is to say “a phased reduction in tariffs”, in exchange for a “phased acceptance” of terms. From the Chinese position, they view this as their version of how they project the Western mindset of win-win into the negotiations.
None of the principals can say this directly; to make such an admission would be akin to losing face amid a history of thousands of years of specific Chinese strategy. So they send out spokespersons to promote such a proposal.
Anyone who has an understanding of the Chinese outlook should take all of the media reporting on this with a grain-of-salt. Beijing uses spokespersons as panda masks, and Team Trump know the distance between the Chinese principal and a Chinese spokesperson is part of their strategy. The unspoken space between words is more important than the words themselves. Inside this space is where cunning exists.
This is what happened when the May 2019 talks collapsed.
Special trade envoy of Chairman Xi, Vice-Premier Liu He, quickly turned from a principal to a panda mask as soon as Beijing weighed in -and rebuked- Liu He’s negotiated terms.
Vice-Premier Liu He was stripped of his “special envoy” designation; and Beijing used the distance they just created with He as the justification for dismissing the May ’19 terms of agreement. That example was very typically Chinese.
The point is, Beijing does not want to accept any new terms that diminishes their prior one-sided benefit. China is communist, they don’t have a direct constituent group they are accountable to…. they are willing to incur suffering so long as they don’t lose position.
Losing less is not considered a position of benefit. China cannot even contemplate such a position; it just isn’t done. So any and all reporting on the discussions should be viewed through the prism that any deal is almost impossible to assemble unless, somehow, Beijing can view a deal as a win. That is a deal President Trump is not going to accept.
Published at Sat, 09 Nov 2019 00:18:24 +0000