Beijing and Washington are still talking trade, as China prepares for ‘protracted struggle’

Foreign Affairs

Beijing has not given up on its relationship with the U.S. yet, but it is making plans for worst case scenarios.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi sitting, next to a flag of China
Chinese Foreign Minister Wáng Yì 王毅 gives a monologue to Xinhua News Agency.

“We can restart the communication channels with the U.S. on all levels and in all fields any time, and any issues can be brought to the table,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wáng Yì 王毅 in a monologue with Xinhua News Agency (in Chinese, English), or see a South China Morning Post summary. This comes as the Wall Street Journal reports that “the U.S. and China have agreed to high-level talks on August 15 to assess Beijing’s compliance with the bilateral trade agreement signed early this year.”

But the messages from Beijing are not all rosy. As Xinhua emphasized by tweet, Wang also said, “The U.S. is not qualified to build a coalition of ‘clean countries’ because itself is dirty all over.”

  • Wang also denounced his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo’s “assertion of failure of engagement with China,” and said that American “unilateralism and bullying pose a real challenge to the international order.”
  • Wang blamed all the problems in the U.S.-China relationship on Washington, a point reinforced by an essay he published (in Chinese) in the Communist Party journal Seeking Truth, which is essentially an ode to the unassailable wisdom of the foreign policy of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平: See analysis by China Media Project for details.

Meanwhile, another essay republished by Seeking Truth (originally from the Beijing Daily) talks (in Chinese) of China fighting a “protracted war for prosperity amid uncertainties” (Xinhua English summary here).

  • On Protracted War” (论持久战 lùn chíjiǔ zhàn) is the name of a series of speeches by Máo Zédōng 毛泽东 given in 1938 about the war against Japan.
  • America is not mentioned in the new Seeking Truth essay, but China’s relationship with the U.S. is clearly one of the greatest uncertainties the country faces.

What does this all mean?

The Chinese government is hoping for the best in its relations with the U.S. (and other countries), but clearly preparing for the worst. Keep your seatbelts fastened.