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Opinion | Trump Hands China a simple win in the trade war



Although a trade with the United States is still possible, someone in the Chinese leadership is now beginning to ask why bother? They claim that the Trump administration in technology, investment, foreign policy, national security and human rights has made it clear that it has embarked on a more opposite position against China. So why should Beijing use any more political capital on a trade agreement? Perhaps it is better, in China's view, to cut their losses now and be ready for the next cold war.

If that's what Trump administration wants, the strategy has been a great success. If not, and the president really wants a trade agreement, with reasonable reductions in the bilateral trade deficit, and some substantial changes in Chinese economic behavior, the US negotiating strategy requires some serious recalibration.

Of course, China's public position is that negotiations can continue. Even within the framework of the new "red lines" there may still be room for an appointment. China may agree to buy more US goods, with America giving court fees, and the unilateral right to impose tariffs later. However, the difficulty of reaching an agreement has now increased significantly.

The bottom line is that nationalism is not just a factor in Trump's America. It is now also a major factor in Xi Jinping China, reinforced by the prism of Chinese history. In most of its deals with America over the past 100 years, China has been so weak. In Beijing, China is now weak, no longer.

Former President of Australia, Kevin Rudd is president of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York.

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