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U.S. Donald Trump And China Xi Jinping To Meet In Argentina

In Trump's "America First" rhetoric and persistent criticism of the damaging effect he says Chinese trade practices have on America.

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China, USA, Trade War
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping participate in a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump and China ‘s President Xi Jinping are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Argentina this week for what some see as the most important meeting in years between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies.

After months of bitter bickering between their governments over trade and security that has raised questions about the very future of a complex but economically pivotal relationship, the two leaders took a step back from the edge with an ice-breaking telephone call early this month.

They expressed optimism about resolving their damaging trade war ahead of the meeting on Saturday, but there have been few tangible signs of progress. They will be in Buenos Aires for the summit of the leaders of the 20 major economies.

China, USA
(Representational Image) FILE – In this April 29, 2015 file photo, visitors use a laptop computer at a display booth as a security guard stands nearby at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing. A coalition of international business groups has appealed to China in a letter dated Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016 to change proposed cybersecurity rules they warn will harm trade and isolate the country. VOA

Even so, differences among Trump’s top advisers over China policy and his personal unpredictability and fondness for headline-grabbing moments mean it remains anyone’s guess what the Trump-Xi meeting might bring.

What caused the trade war?

Trump railed against the massive U.S. trade deficit with China during his 2016 election campaign and after a year in office, with no sign of the gap narrowing, the U.S. president attacked the issue head-on.

Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to force concessions on a list of demands that would fundamentally change the two countries’ terms of trade. China has responded with tariffs of its own on U.S. goods, targeting farm states that are an important part of Trump’s political base.

Trump has threatened tariffs on another $267 billion worth of Chinese products, including cell phones, computers, clothing and footwear. And 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods are scheduled to rise to a more prohibitive 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019 unless a truce is agreed.

China, USA
Secretary Kerry Touts Virtues of 10-Year U.S.-China Business and Tourism Visas Before Presenting First Documents in Beijing, flickr

Washington wants Beijing to act to reduce a $375 billion trade surplus by opening its economy to foreign competition, increasing protection for U.S. intellectual property, ending joint venture requirements that lead to technology transfers and cutting subsidies to state-owned industries.

It particularly wants to prevent exports to China of advanced technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics and has tightened rules on foreign investment in 27 sensitive sectors to stop Chinese deals.

The U.S. Justice Department recently charged China state-owned Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co with conspiring to steal trade secrets in what is expected to be the first of several similar cases to attempt to stop the flow of intellectual property into China.

U.S. officials say China has delivered a written response to U.S. demands for wide-ranging trade reforms, but they remain doubtful this will be enough to bring about a breakthrough when Xi and Trump meet.

How serious is the US-China security rivalry?

In the past 20 years China has grown rapidly to become arguably Washington’s biggest security rival, with defense spending that now far outstrips former Cold War rival Russia. A hundred years after the end of World War One, some academics have even warned of another “Thucydides Trap” – a theory that sees a risk of rivalry between a rising and an established power spiraling into open conflict.

China
Chinese censors have erased online debate over US-China trade negotiations as the two countries appeared to back away from a trade war.

Recent years have seen a steady uptick in tensions, punctuated by U.S. naval and air patrols challenging China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea and U.S. warship movements through the highly sensitive Taiwan Strait.

While the two sides have taken care to maintain military-to-military contacts, close encounters have raised fears that an accidental clash could escalate into an unexpected conflict – particularly over Taiwan, which Beijing considers a wayward province and a “red line” not to be crossed.

Trump added new uncertainty when he said the United States would quit a Cold-War era treaty with Russia that has prevented Washington from stationing ground-based intermediate-range missiles in Asia as well as Europe.

In what was billed as a major policy speech on Oct. 4, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence escalated Washington’s trade-driven pressure campaign, highlighting Chinese military and industrial espionage activity and accusing China of “malign” efforts to undermine Trump in the Nov. 6 mid-term congressional elections. He offered no concrete evidence of that.

China
Video: US-China Trade Talks End in an Impasse. (VOA)

Is the current trend reversible?

White House insiders say there remain substantial differences within the Trump administration over how far to push China.

Also Read: U.N. Food And Agriculture Organisation Renews Its Policy To Achieve ‘Zero Hunger’

This division groups anti-China hardliner and trade adviser Peter Navarro, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and those who favor a complete reevaluation of the relationship on one side. On the other are pragmatists led by White House chief economist Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, concerned about the harm deepening friction could do to the U.S. economy and markets.

In Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and persistent criticism of the damaging effect he says Chinese trade practices have on America, he has appeared to favor Navarro’s school of thought. But he has also shown himself very aware of the immediately positive effects any indication of an improved mood with Beijing can have on U.S. financial markets and his ratings for handling of the economy at a time when he is under fire on other domestic fronts. (VOA)

Next Story

Donald Trump to Declare ‘Emergency’, Use Military Funds for Mexico Border Wall

He will sign a border security bill to avert a government shutdown, but also act to bypass Congress and use military funds for the wall, a statement said.

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Donald Trump
R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills blasted Carpe Donktum and Trump on Saturday. Pixabay

US President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency to fund his planned border wall with Mexico, the White House has said.

He will sign a border security bill to avert a government shutdown, but also act to bypass Congress and use military funds for the wall, a statement said.

Senior Democrats have responded by accusing him of committing a “gross abuse of power” and a “lawless act”, the BBC reported on Friday.

The Congress passed the bill on Thursday which does not meet Trump’s demands for wall funding. It now has to be signed by the President to become law.

 

Donald Trump, Mexico
Senior Democrats have responded by accusing him of committing a “gross abuse of power” and a “lawless act”. VOA

The compromise legislation passed by Congress includes $1.3 billion in funding for border security, including physical barriers, but it does not allot money towards the border wall for which Trump had wanted $5.7 billion.

“The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.

She added he would “take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border”.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday, however, Republican leader Mitch McConnell indicated his support for the move, saying the President was taking action with “whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his efforts to secure the border”.

In a 83-16 vote, the Senate on Thursday passed the border security bill. The House of Representatives later also backed the measure, by 300 to 128.

 

US, Donald Trump
“The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. VOA

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already suggested a legal challenge from Democrats should the President make an emergency declaration.

She and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also issued a joint statement condemning the move.

 

ALSO READ: Mexico Announced to Relocate Central American Migrants, 4 People Injured

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” they said.

Republicans fear this will set a precedent for presidential power that Democrats can someday use to circumvent the will of Congress. (IANS)