Executive Intelligence Review


President Trump ‘Optimistic’ about Talks with China, While Trade Rep Lighthizer Acts as Saboteur

Nov. 21, 2018 (EIRNS)—In an interview yesterday with Fox Business host Stuart Varney, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, gave an upbeat assessment of how things look going into the G20 summit (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) and the meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping.

This stands in stark contrast to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who just issued a 53-page report, under section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, attacking China. Beijing, his report charged, has “not fundamentally altered its unfair unreasonable and market-distorting practices” outlined in a March 2018 report on the same subject. The latest report rants that,

“despite repeated U.S. engagement efforts and international admonishments of its trade technology transfer policies, China did not respond constructively and failed to take any substantive actions to address U.S. concerns.”

Kudlow, on the other hand, said in his interview with Varney that President Trump “is trying to inject a note of optimism” into trade talks with China, “and I think that’s terrific.... He believes that China would like a deal, but he has also told me on a number of occasions that any deal between the two countries has got to be in America’s interests, without any question.” Kudlow reiterated that there continue to be “very detailed communications at all levels of government,” and that the situation is greatly improved compared to three or four weeks ago, an improvement he attributed to President Trump himself.

He indicated that, of course, any agreement must include issues such as intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, zero tariffs, an end to Chinese cyberhacking, etc. But, he continued, “Having said that, the President is taking an optimistic view, as he has said many times.” [emphasis added] Kudlow only joked when Varney asked him whether Trump were listening “to you or Peter Navarro,” the anti-China guru, whom Kudlow has ridiculed in the past over statements contradicting Trump’s efforts at cooperation with China. It is instructive, however, that China-hater Navarro, the White House Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, will not be attending the G20 summit, according to the South China Morning Post.

The SCMP notes that Navarro’s exclusion from the Argentina trip, and the “high-stakes dinner” between Trump and Xi, “comes amid signs from both sides that they want to make progress at the summit.”