President Donald Trump is continuing to escalate the trade war with China, and tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods are just the beginning. Trump wants China to “suffer more” and has no intention of easing tariffs, Axios reports, citing three individuals familiar with the president’s thinking.
For President Donald Trump, the pressure campaign against China is a way for the United States to demonstrate its superiority. The commander in chief views tariffs as leverage, and reportedly believes that the longer his tariffs on Chinese goods last, the more leverage he will have.
The details of the arrangement itself do not matter too much to the president. He remains focused on pressuring the Chinese government, and does not plan on backing down. “We are strong and they are weak,” is the message Donald Trump is hoping to send, according to Axios‘ sources. “He believes more pressure will bring them to the table to make a deal.”
Administration officials have reportedly stayed in contact with the Chinese government’s chief trade negotiator Liu He, but according to officials briefed on the matter the correspondence is mostly pro forma. “There is some contact with mid-level Chinese, but not much. I wouldn’t overestimate the planning process,” a U.S. official told Axios.
As Politico reported earlier this week, Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping have agreed to meet at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Buenos Aires in late November. The announcement of the meeting was interpreted as an official indication that Washington and Beijing are readying to de-escalate tensions and agree on new trade deals.
NEW from @jonathanvswan: President Trump has no intention of easing his tariffs on China. Instead, sources say he wants the Chinese leaders to feel more pain from his tariffs — which he believes need more time to fully kick in. https://t.co/0xsyVtEFos
— Axios (@axios) October 21, 2018
President Trump does not shy away from praising his administration’s China policy, and he has referred to Xi Jinping as a friend, often claiming to have great chemistry with the Chinese president. But as the Washington Examiner recently reported, the Xi-Trump friendship appears to have come to an end, according to the President of the United States himself. “Maybe he’s not [my friend] anymore, I’ll be honest with you. I think we had a very good friendship,” Donald Trump said during a press conference at the United Nations General Assembly.
The upcoming Buenos Aires meeting, contrary to Politico‘s predictions, will likely not lead to the de-escalation of the China-U.S. trade war. The meeting, according to Axios‘ sources, is “heads of state meeting, not a trade meeting.”
“Trump is thinking about this meeting as a personal re-connection with President Xi, not a meeting that’s going to evolve into detailed discussions. Right now, there’s not the common basis for proceeding,” an unnamed administration official said.