Trump and Xi Square Off in Buenos Aires This Weekend

Nov. 28, 2018
by Bob Adelmann

Ever since communist China saw its opportunity in 2001 and took it, its leaders have salivated over the opportunity to become the hegemon of the world. Treated as a developing nation in the World Trade Agreement (WTO), it not only took advantage of the United States but continued to abridge the agreement’s rules. In the nearly two decades since then, China has grown, thrived, and prospered at America’s expense to the point where it is a virtual hegemon in East Asia and seeks to expand its power and influence worldwide.

President Donald Trump saw the threat years ago, and now is in a position to do something about it.

The issues being covered by the media aren’t the real issues. Trump plays along. In a telephone interview with Bob Davis of The Wall Street Journal on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked what he hoped would come out of that meeting. He answered:

Make a fair deal. The only deal that would really be acceptable to me – other than obviously we have to do something on the theft of intellectual property, right? – but the only deal would be China has to open up their country to competition from the United States.

As far as other countries are concerned, that’s up to them.

I’m interested in the United States. They have to open up China to the United States. Otherwise, I don’t see a deal being made. And if it’s not made, we will be taking in billions and billions of dollars [from tariffs, both present and future].

Davis has been covering the nascent trade war between China and the U.S. for more than a year for the Journal and he spelled out Xi’s position going into that meeting with Trump:

Chinese officials have said their priority is to convince the U.S. to suspend the planned Jan. 1 increase in tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China to 25% from 10% currently. Beijing also hopes Washington will forgo additional tariff actions against Chinese products and lift existing punitive taxes on China-made steel and aluminum.

In previous meetings, Trump’s people have presented to ranking Chinese officials a list of 142 trade demands, some of which China has already agreed to accept. Others are negotiable while the balance is not. As Keynesian economist and liberal commentator Anatole Kaletsky expressed it:

In fact, China has already agreed that it could meet roughly 40% of the 142 trade demands presented by the US earlier this year, and could negotiate a further 40%.

It is the remaining 20%, involving technology and industrial subsidies, which are non-negotiable for China. Of course, this 20% covers most of the policies that militant Sinophobes denounce, because they could enable China to challenge US technological and military hegemony by the second half of this century.

This is how a thoroughly globalist commentator (see Sources below) manages to express his disgust with populists (nationalists, sovereignty loving citizens) while pointing out the truth about China’s real intentions.


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That’s why the side meeting in Buenos Aires between Trump and Xi is going to be the main event. It will address existential issues for both countries that go far beyond disputes over intellectual property theft, subsidizing critical industries like steel and aluminum in order to weaken the U.S., and China’s manipulating its currency to its own advantage. China has built its military and economy power on the back of the United States ever since it joined the World Trade Organization. As Trump explained to Davis during his telephone interview:

It all began with the World Trade Organization, a disaster. A disaster. I would actually say that was perhaps – I say NAFTA was the worst trade deal ever made. I would say only – only – challenged by the WTO. That has been – if you look at China, China’s ascension was the day that the WTO was signed. It’s a one-sided deal. They were treated as a – you know, as a growing country, as a – what would you say? How would you say that?

Mr. Davis: Developing country. Developing.

President Trump: Developing. A developing nation. And no – and it’s never come off. They still – it’s ridiculous. The World Trade Organization is absolutely unfair to the United States, and they’re going to have to change their ways. They’re going to have to change.

Whether Trump can pull it off remains a serious and open question. He is challenging the very core of the tyranny that rules China, a rule by rulers who aren’t likely to roll over for the American president.

The meeting in Buenos Aires won’t be the national equivalent of the “thrilla from Manilla.” Muhammad Ali expressed it like this back in 1975: “a killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla [Joe Frazier] in Manila.” It’ll be much more important than that. 


Sources: President says U.S. will probably boost tariffs to 25%, expand scope of imports affected if no trade deal reached

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Expects to Move Ahead With Boost on China Tariffs

Transcript of President Trump’s Interview with The Wall Street Journal

Anatole Kaletsky: Why a US-China Tariff Ceasefire Is Coming Soon

Background on 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit

Background on Anatole Kaletsky

Background on USMCA (NAFTA 2.0)

Background on Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Would China Be a Benign Hegemon?

Background on the WTO

China and the World Trade Organization

Background on the “Thrilla in Manilla” (1975 fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier)

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