Trump spoke at the G7 meeting in France where he claimed that Chinese officials called their American counterparts and said they were ready to make a deal because, in Trump's words, they've been "hurt very badly."
But that phone call never took place; a fact that Chinese officials and state-run media reiterated today.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang spoke to the press in Beijing this morning where he said there was no phone call and he called on the Trump regime to "return to rationality."
“We hope that the U.S. can maintain calm, return to rationality, stop wrong practices, and create conditions for the two sides to conduct consultations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” Geng said Tuesday.
Chinese state-run media Xinhua is also sticking to its tough stance on the trade war.
“China did not and will not surrender,” Xinhua said in a commentary on Tuesday. “Playing the old tricks of bullying and maximum pressure, the U.S. administration has escalated the trade tensions repeatedly and tried to coerce China into accepting its irrational demands.”
Xinhua had called Trump’s move to order companies to leave China “ridiculous at best.”
One cannot "return to rationality" if they were never rational to begin with, but I digress.
Politically speaking, Trump's claim that China called him to beg for mercy has apparently backfired and, as I've said before, Trump makes it even more difficult to deal with him each time he opens his big, stupid mouth.
Bloomberg reports that China's ruling part is less inclined than ever to deal with Trump.
“Trump’s flip flop has further enlarged the distrust,” said Tao Dong, vice chairman for Greater China at Credit Suisse Private Banking in Hong Kong. “This makes a quick resolution nearly impossible.” [...]
Politically, Xi doesn’t have much wiggle room to indulge Trump. Hardliners have become more emboldened each time Trump has shattered a temporary truce and hit China harder, from raising tariffs to blacklisting leading tech company Huawei Technologies Co.
While China has been open to a deal that includes greater purchases of U.S. agriculture goods, it’s politically unfeasible for Xi to sign off on an agreement that leaves the punitive tariffs in place. He also can’t agree to privatize parts of the economy that are crucial to the Communist Party’s grip on power, such as certain state-owned enterprises.
“For China, it is about legitimacy of the Party’s rule -- economic performance and nationalism, especially about the rise of the Chinese people on the world stage,” said Suisheng Zhao, executive director of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies. “Both are at stake, and China can’t afford to lose. China is not likely to make any substantial concessions currently.”
Bloomberg also reports that China has been preparing for the possibility that Trump will never end his trade war and new ways to retaliate are under discussion. Among other things, Chinese officials are reportedly considering placing export controls on American companies the same way Trump has placed export controls on Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei.
Suffice to say, Trump has picked a fight he can't win, but that doesn't mean China will win either. In this fight, the whole world may lose as the global economy is dragged into recession.
There is no reason to think this will end before Trump is out of office unless he becomes convinced that perpetuating it will cost him the election.
If that day ever comes -- if Trump decides this more trouble than it's worth -- we can expect he'll declare victory and pretend he got everything he wanted even if he got nothing.