You’re unlikely to read this in the mainstream press. But the US–China trade disputes of 2018 could well be relegated to the history books within the next few months.
Global stock markets have taken a turn for the worse. And global growth forecasts are slowing — even in the US, where the consumer driven economy remains strong. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump have tremendous incentives to bridge their disagreements.
Neither side will get everything they want. But by moving towards the middle, both sides —and their leaders — will emerge as winners.
This reality is not lost on China’s president.
Xi says history reveals cooperation is key
It’s been 40 years since diplomatic relations between the US and China were established. And, while there have been inevitable ups and downs, there’s no doubt that progress has been made over the past four decades.
In his congratulatory message to Trump on the four-score achievement, as reported by RAW, Xi drew focus to this progress in the US–China relations.
‘History has proved that cooperation is the best choice for both sides,’ Xi said.
We only need to look at the last 12 months to see that he isn’t wrong. The back and forth tariff-throwing which the mainstream media shake their heads at, has come to a halt after the 2018 G20 summit.
At that meeting held in Argentina, Trump met personally with Xi and agreed on a 90-day ceasefire period for them to sort out their differences. We’re in the midst of this ceasefire as we speak, and important conversations are already happening — with more scheduled in the upcoming weeks — to facilitate a mutually beneficial arrangement between the two nations.
As RAW reports, Xi has noted China–US relations are in a very important stage right now:
‘I attach great importance to the development of China-US relations and am willing to work with President Trump to summarise the experience of the development of China-US relations and implement the consensus we have reached in a joint effort to advance China-US relations featuring coordination, cooperation and stability so as to better benefit the two peoples as well as the people of the rest of the world.’
Trump reciprocated the congratulations on 40 years of diplomacy, emphasising his desire to promote further cooperative and constructive US–China relations, ‘adding that his solid friendship with President Xi has laid a firm foundation for the great achievements of the two countries in coming years’, as Chinese news outlet Xinhua reports.
And, contrary to the picture depicted by mainstream news, there has in fact already been serious effort from both parties to find a worthy agreement once and for all.
2019 negotiations already underway
China’s Commerce Ministry have said both nations have planned to meet face-to-face for multiple trade consultations during this month.
And on the second last day of 2018, Trump announced on Twitter yet another step forward towards cooperation:
‘Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China. Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!’
Of course, the conglomerate of naysayers are quick to note the threatening undertones of a 90-day deadline that Trump refuses to budge on, lest certain requests are met. Yet another log to the fire, they say.
But as RAW reports, Xinhua (the Chinese news outlet) have noted that it would be unnatural for China and the US to agree unattested to every element of their trade relationship, considering their ‘different social systems, development paths and historical and cultural backgrounds’.
‘At a time when the world is undergoing unprecedentedly profound changes and is fraught with risks and uncertainties, the global community expects even closer collaboration between the two largest economies,’ Xinhua commented.
And if there’s ever a year for such close collaboration on China’s behalf, 2019 would be it. This year also marks 30 years since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Moreover, this week, Xi is making his first public appearance at an anniversary occasion, planning to give a speech on self-ruled Taiwan — which China claims as its sacred territory.
So it seems China are all about patching up their bridges in 2019. And Trump is certainly keen to have this trade war chapter closed.
And there’s still a full two months of negotiations ahead. Plenty of time to seal the deal.
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