Today, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed what was already pretty obvious: The Trump administration is in absolutely no rush to resolve its ongoing trade confrontation with China.
- “We’ve put [Washington’s foreign trade objectives] in three categories: the first was really [the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta]; the second is dealing with the EU, which we are making progress on; and the third is China,” Mnuchin said, the SCMP reports.
- The thinking behind the U.S. side’s comfort in a drawn-out approach — that the Chinese economy will be, or already is, collapsing under pressure from the U.S. — was explained in more detail in our trade war roundup yesterday.
- The Chinese thinking, which similarly leads officials in China to take a patient approach at this time, is that the U.S. is using the trade war as a tool to contain China’s economic rise and is therefore not willing to compromise. This was also explained in our roundup yesterday.
- More confirmation that this is what Chinese officials think can be found in the People’s Daily today: Noted China-watcher Bill Bishop points out (paywall) a piece (in Chinese) by Long Guoqiang, vice president of the Development Research Center of the State Council — effectively, Long is the equivalent of a high-ranking Cabinet official.
- Long argues that “strategic containment” (战略遏制 zhànlüè èzhì) is one of the primary American goals with the trade war — along with “interests extortion” (利益敲诈 lìyì qiāozhà), basically threatening trade wars or actually going through with them to force the opening of markets, and “model beatdown” (模式打压 móshì dǎyā), or attacking the Chinese “state capitalism” model of development to preserve American hegemony.
In other trade war and related news:
- Trump tweets accusing China of hacking
Trump, without citing evidence, says China hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails / Washington Post
China denies Donald Trump’s claim it hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails / AP via Times of India
Donald Trump’s tweets — 1, 2 — referenced an article on the right-wing website Daily Caller — SOURCES: China hacked Hillary Clinton’s private email server — which has been denied by FBI sources: “‘The FBI has not found any evidence the (Clinton) servers were compromised,’ the official [speaking for the bureau] told @NBCNews,” national security reporter Ken Dilanian tweeted.
On a related note: The urge to divert attention from Russia to China on the right side of the American political spectrum is strong. The National Interest, a right-wing American publication with a “realist” (i.e., aggressive) approach to foreign policy, has a new piece titled China — not Russia — elected Trump. One could call this an anti-China article: The conclusion is that while “Russian political meddling should be of concern, the real threat to America’s future is rampant Chinese predatory economic behavior.” But this attitude is widespread in the U.S. political class, and it may not change significantly under Trump.
- An embarrassed envoy returns home
Chinese envoy’s lips zipped on trade war talks as United States turns attention to Canada, Mexico and Europe / SCMP
“The head of Beijing’s trade talks delegation to Washington last week [for negotiations which went nowhere] has avoided all mention of the trade war or his US trip in his first public appearance back in China.”
“In a press conference on Wednesday to promote an international trade and investment fair in the Chinese city of Xiamen next month, vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen focused on the annual expo and China’s good track record in luring foreign investment.”
“All of the questions Wang fielded were from mainland Chinese media and none were about the trade war.”
- Economic effects
The trade war won’t cause any ‘major’ hit to China’s economy, Morgan Stanley says / CNBC
“The Chinese government will continue implementing measures to cushion the impact from the country’s ongoing trade war with the U.S., a top China economist said on Wednesday.”
GoPro CEO: We’re ‘actively looking’ to source outside of China / CNN
“GoPro CEO Nick Woodman says the company hasn’t been hit by President Trump’s tariffs against China yet — but they are actively looking to move production out of China should that change.”
How a ban on Chinese-made subway cars makes life harder for commuters / Washington Post
Chinese state-run company China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CRRC) “may be the most undeserving Chinese company to be hit by the U.S.-China Trade War of 2018.”
- China continues to try to understand Trump
Donald Trump ally John Thornton briefs China’s trade war negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He in Beijing / SCMP
“John Thornton, chairman of the think tank the Brookings Institution and former president of investment bank Goldman Sachs, outlined some of Washington’s thinking on the escalating trade war at a meeting of the international advisory board of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC).”
Previously in SupChina’s trade war coverage: