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Hong Kong Paper Sees Trump-Xi Summit Off to June

March 18, 2018 (EIRNS)—Despite all the nostrums about how well the U.S.-China trade negotiations are going, repeated by administration officials and President Donald Trump himself, there is no guarantee that any agreement will be signed while the President is under the influence of administration figures whose goal is to “punish China”—as it also is to “punish North Korea” and “punish Russia.”

An article posted March 18 by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post cites unnamed sources in China as forecasting that a summit at Mar-a-Lago between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping—which had slipped from late March to April—is not likely before June. “It may be put back to June, sources have said, as they will not be able to finalize an agreement by April.” The paper also has sources who suggest divergences between Trump and parts of his “team.” “The main division within the White House is how much importance will be attached to an enforcement mechanism to ensure the Chinese side lives up to its side of the bargain, or whether it will be enough to secure an agreement in principle and declare success,” it continues.

If a trade agreement does elude America and China completely, the SCMP and other sources are agreed that the poison pill will have been the “enforcement mechanism” designed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (see EIR Daily Alert for March 18, 2019). The paper does not suggest it has been told of a Trump/Lighthizer split, carefully implies that President Trump, now watching a sharp U.S. economic slowdown out of the corner of his eye, may be the one who now wants to declare success. Lighthizer does not; and the current gutter level of thinking in the U.S. Congress prefers to see a failure.

SCMP says “Beijing was alarmed by the proposals and argued that enforcement must be two-way, fair and equal. The tough stance taken by Washington’s top trade negotiator has won bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.”

Trump cannot reasonably expect China to accept Lighthizer’s enforcement scheme. The standoff could become protracted.

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