- Donald Trump is trying to buy time as he struggles to gain the upper hand in negotiations with Beijing.
- Despite his tough-talk in recent days, Donald Trump will struggle to get China to fulfill its obligations.
- No matter what, a conversation with Xi Jinping will be bad for his reelection campaign.
This week, Donald Trump reiterated that his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping was intact – but that he doesn’t feel like talking to him right now.
Trump has long been critical of China’s role in the novel coronavirus pandemic. But as his trade deal with Beijing skates on thinner and thinner ice, the president is painting himself into a corner.
Donald Trump’s China Trade Deal Slips Away
There’s a simple reason President Trump doesn’t want to speak with Xi. He likely has nothing to say.
Of course, the two will need to talk eventually – because their trade deal is about to fall apart.
Beijing’s trade deal commitments were questionable before coronavirus upended the global economy.
But with China’s economy shrinking 6.8% in Q1 alone, it’s virtually unfathomable that it will fulfill its promise of purchasing an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. goods by the end of 2021.
Xi and Beijing want to renegotiate.
If they don’t buy, we’ll terminate the deal. Very simple.
There’s more at risk for Trump than the U.S.-China trade deal
Trump says he’s not interested in a new deal, which bolsters his promise to be tough on China.
But when it comes to this trade deal, Trump is between a rock and a hard place. He’s up for reelection in just a few months, and Beijing knows it.
If he softens his stance, he’ll look weak. If he refuses to compromise, he risks pushing the U.S. economy over a cliff.
It’s a lose-lose situation for Donald Trump.
Add to that the president’s promise to “make China pay,” and you have a recipe for disaster. Of course he doesn’t want to talk to Xi.
Xi Jinping Holds All the Cards Now
The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t have been timed worse for Trump, whose reelection campaign rested entirely on a strong economy and booming stock market.
Trump has sought to evade blame for the damage that the crisis has wrought on the U.S. Throughout the pandemic, he’s led his supporters to believe Beijing’s handling of the outbreak caused the economic carnage the U.S. is suffering.
And now Trump voters expect the president to make China pay.
No matter what happens when Trump eventually picks up the phone to dial Xi Jinping, he won’t come out of it looking good. Beijing holds all the cards, and he’s going to be the one making concessions this time.
An advisor to the Chinese government said as much earlier this week.
It’s in fact in China’s interests to terminate the current Phase One deal. The US now cannot afford to restart the trade war with China if everything goes back to the starting point.
With that in mind, it’s understandable why Donald Trump is screening Xi Jinping’s calls. But even he knows he’s only delaying the inevitable.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.