Trade clash looms after Trump-Xi phone call

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart exchanged a phone call on Monday, January 16, reports the South China Morning Post. According to a White House statement, the pair mainly discussed Sino-U.S. trade, along with other issues such as the Korean Peninsula situation.

  • Trump “expressed disappointment” at China’s trade surplus with the U.S., which grew to a record $275.8 billion in 2017, according to Bloomberg. Xi said that both sides should take a “constructive approach” and work “properly” to address disputes and open up markets to each other.
  • On North Korea, both leaders expressed hope that negotiations “might prompt a change in North Korea’s destructive behavior,” while Trump reiterated his determination to impose “maximum pressure” on North Korea to give up its nuclear program.
  • Trouble ahead? Though the call sounds amicable, Andrew Browne at the Wall Street Journal (paywall) argues that U.S. trade deficit with China still remains a “potential catalyst for hostilities after a year of bluster from President Donald Trump.” Browne’s editors highlighted the worst-case scenario, headlining his piece “Battle stations: U.S. and China prepare for trade clash of the titans.”