Nice Trade Deal, Shame If Something Happened To It

Written by SK Ashby

China has only purchased 5 percent and about 25 percent of their energy and agricultural commitments respectively under "phase one" of Trump's "biggest and greatest deal," but is that a result of a deliberate choice or simply market forces showing weak demand?

It's probably both, but we now have a statement from the Chinese government that seems like a not-subtle hint that they've intentionally slowed their purchases.

China's Ministry of Commerce says the Trump regime needs to 'create the conditions' for implementing the deal.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China hopes the United States will stop taking restrictive and discriminatory action against Chinese firms and create conditions for the implementation of a Phase 1 trade deal, Assistant Minister of Commerce Ren Hongbin said on Thursday. [...]

“Under the current situation, it is required that the both sides need to work together and step up cooperation to overcome the difficult times,” said Ren.

We hope U.S. would stop taking any restrictions and discriminatory action against Chinese companies and create conditions for the implementation of the Phase 1 trade agreement.

In other words, stop trying to sanction Huawei into collapse and maybe we'll buy your soybeans.

I want to acknowledge and recognize that there's an element of bad faith here, but not one we couldn't see coming nor is it necessarily unfair.

The targets set under "phase one" of Trump's deal were never realistic and unlikely to be met even before the coronavirus pandemic existed so, to some extent, to say Trump's actions are responsible for not meeting those targets is an argument made in bad faith. But with that said, Trump walked right into it. Trump has repeatedly given China all the political cover they need for, well, virtually everything.

Trump deals almost exclusively in bad faith so I can't exactly feign surprise when his opponents use it against him.

You can't win a rhetorical war by giving your enemy all the rhetorical leverage and Trump has done so many times over. He privately blessed China's internment of Muslim minorities before signing sanctions against it. He praised Hong Kong's protesters, cracked down on American protesters, and then condemned Hong Kong's crackdown on protesters. He has urged the European Union to ban Huawei from their networks even while the EU's top court found that sharing data with American companies is illegal because America has too many ways to spy on it. The list goes on.

Just because China occasionally argues in bad faith does not mean they aren't still more consistent than the Trump regime is. But it's not a high bar.

If there's one thing I'm absolutely certain of, it's that the Biden administration would be far more consistent than either China or Trump.