Trump's upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit -- a meeting that may or may not even take place -- is where the two sides will finally come together, sign a deal, and end Trump's trade war, right?
That's the storyline the White House has been selling us for months, but they aren't even preparing for a meeting according to the latest reports from Reuters.
The White House says preparations for the meeting are "ongoing," but officials who spoke to Reuters say there have been almost no preparations if any for a high-stakes meeting that is just two weeks away.
“The atmosphere is poisonous,” one senior Beijing-based Western diplomat told Reuters, referring to China-U.S. ties.
Sources familiar with the matter, including officials and diplomats in Washington and Beijing, say there has been a lack of preparatory work for the meeting, due largely to the increasing acrimony. The trade negotiating teams have not met since talks ended in stalemate on May 10. [...]
Sources said the two leaders are likely to have some kind of meeting but whatever happens in Osaka, it will be a downgrade from the possibility both sides feted just two months ago - when they hoped the talks would be the scene for the two presidents to sign a historic trade deal.
A senior Chinese official told U.S. business representatives last week that preparations had yet to begin for either a Trump-Xi meeting or to resume trade negotiations, a source with direct knowledge of the briefing said.
I am growing increasingly skeptical that a meeting will even take place, but if it does I can see only two possible outcomes.
Trump is either going to move forward with tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods, or he's going to erroneously declare victory and delay the tariffs with no substantive agreement to support the decision.
Chinese officials have more or less told Trump to get fucked at this point, declaring that they will "fight to the end" if Trump escalates his trade war.
Trump's rationale for waging a trade war in the first place was never rooted in economics and I think Chinese officials have come to understand that. They can see as clearly as we can that Trump is waging a dick-measuring contest and the Chinese have just as much agency to defend themselves as any other country does. They're not going to cave to Trump's poorly-defined whims and demands while he continues to publicly threaten them.
Trump made it politically untenable to negotiate with him. He always does.