What does it mean when China talks about talks with US on trade

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL November 17, 2018

Here’s something good to know. China is willing to talk to the US about the trade dispute and Donald Trump has increasingly indicated he’s inclined to jaw-jaw too. Or, at least get to a “deal”, which in Trumpian terms probably means he’s prepared to talk.

This is all to the good. It’s good to talk, and in the absence of actual talks, it’s good to talk about talks.

But talks – or even talk about talks – don’t mean the trade war is over – or will end very soon. However, it may be the end of the beginning of the US-China conflict. Everything will now move into another phase.

The Chinese certainly seem to be trying to present themselves as eminently reasonable. Vice President Wang Qishan, who’s known to be close to President Xi Jinping, told Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum in Singapore that Beijing was ready and willing to find a way to end the trade dispute with the US. But he added that China wouldn’t consent to be “bullied and oppressed by imperialist powers” all over again, which suggests that nationalist sentiment may keep morale and determination high. It’s the same sort of thing as President Trump has been doing.

Accordingly, the only thing that’s worse than trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies is trade conflict with nationalist underpinnings.