Archive for ‘President Donald Trump’

18/02/2019

China applauds ‘positive’ Donald Trump tweet, hopes for US trade war deal ahead of Washington talks

    • Opinion piece in major state media outlets is seen to be part of Beijing’s efforts to reassure its citizens that the tariff war with the United States will soon be over
    • A Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He is expected to leave on Tuesday for the American capital after last week’s trade talks in Beijing produced ‘progress’

    China applauds ‘positive’ Donald Trump tweet ahead of Washington talks

    18 Feb 2019

    China and US make ‘progress’ but talks to head to Washington next week

    16 Feb 2019

    Chinese President Xi Jinping urged for a “mutually beneficial” trade deal in this week’s talks when he met US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing on Friday, according to Xinhua. Photo: Xinhua
    Chinese President Xi Jinping urged for a “mutually beneficial” trade deal in this week’s talks when he met US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing on Friday, according to Xinhua. Photo: Xinhua

    A tweet by US President Donald Trump on the ongoing trade war is a “positive” signal, brightening prospects of a deal from this week’s talks in Washington, according to an opinion piece published by China’s major state media outlets on Monday.

    Monday’s opinion piece was published the day before a Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He is expected to leave for talks in Washington.

    In the tweet on Sunday, Trump said: “Important meetings and calls on China trade deal, and more, today with my staff. Big progress being made on soooo many different fronts! Our country has such fantastic potential for future growth and greatness on an even higher level!”

    The opinion piece, which was published by the official Xinhua news agency, the People’s Daily and the Global Times under the pseudonym Niu Tanqin, is seen to be part of Beijing’s efforts to reassure its citizens that the trade war with the United States will soon be over.

    It did contrast previous columns on Trump by the same author, who in March last year argued that China dislikes the American president for his “insatiable demands, greediness and lack of trust worthiness”.

    Last week’s trade talks in Beijing produced “progress” ahead of the March 1 deadline, which could see tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent if the world’s two largest economies fail to reach a deal.

    The outcome of the talks in Washington, which are likely to be the last before March 1, will largely decide whether China and the United States can reach a pact, likely in the form of a memorandum of understanding, to suspend the tariff battle that has been roiling global markets and clouding growth prospects since last year.

    According to the opinion piece, Trump’s use of “soooo” instead of “so” indicated that the US president was excited when he heard reports from his trade envoys following the talks in Beijing, which Chinese President Xi Jinping attend on Friday.

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    Important meetings and calls on China Trade Deal, and more, today with my staff. Big progress being made on soooo many different fronts! Our Country has such fantastic potential for future growth and greatness on an even higher level!

    “The US side is attaching great importance [to the trade talks]. Although Trump is on vacation, he listened to relevant reports and he definitely will make specific instructions,” it added.

    Trump has been upbeat about the prospects of reaching a trade deal with China, and said on Friday at the White House: “It’s going extremely well.”

    Chinese President Xi urged for a “mutually beneficial” trade deal in this week’s talks when he met US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing on Friday, according to Xinhua.

    Stocks in China and Hong Kong surged on Monday, partly bolstered by the increased likelihood of a trade deal between China and the United States.

    Monday’s opinion piece fits into the latest official line that an agreement is very likely to end the tariff war after the Global Times said over the weekend that the bilateral trade talks are “sprinting” towards a positive end.

    Donald Trump’s demands ‘good for China’, says economist Jin Keyu

    Meanwhile, reports in China suggest differences between Beijing and Washington still remain over forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, cyber theft as well as a verification system to ensure China keeps its promises.

    Xi told the US trade envoys that China is willing to “cooperate” but “cooperation has principals”, a statement showing that Beijing will not entertain US demands if it finds such demands violate China’s principals.

    A White House statement on Friday said that “much work remains”, showing gaps still exist.

    Source: SCMP

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17/02/2019

China says no to Germany’s call for arms control deal with US and Russia

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes appeal to Beijing at Munich Security Conference as Washington prepares to leave INF treaty
  • But China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi says nation’s missiles are defensive, do not pose a threat
Chinea’s top envoy Yang Jiechi chats to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Munich Security Conference. Photo: AP
Chinea’s top envoy Yang Jiechi chats to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Munich Security Conference. Photo: AP

China on Saturday rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s appeal to join a cold war-era arms control treaty that the United States accuses Russia of breaching, saying it would place unfair limits on its military.

Fearing a nuclear arms race between China, Russia and the US after the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which the US is withdrawing from, Merkel made her call for a global treaty.

“Disarmament is something that concerns us all and we would of course be glad if such talks were held not just between the United States, Europe and Russia but also with China,” she told the Munich Security Conference.

Is China about to abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy?

Russia and the United States are the signatories to the 1987 INF treaty that bans land-based missiles with a range between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km, and which US President Donald Trump started the six-month withdrawal from this month, blaming Russian violations.

Moscow denies any wrongdoing, but the US and its Nato allies want Russia to destroy its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile system, which Washington says could allow Russia to strike Europe with almost no warning.

Merkel’s suggestion of involving China in a negotiation is seen by European Nato diplomats as a potential way out of the impasse because a new treaty could address American concerns about a growing military threat from China and Russia.

“China develops its capabilities strictly according to its defensive needs and doesn’t pose a threat to anybody else. So we are opposed to the multilateralisation of the INF,” he said.

China’s stated ambition is to modernise its People’s Liberation Army by 2035, improve its air force and push into new technologies including very high speed cruise missiles and artificial intelligence.

Its defence budget grew nearly 6 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to the London-based International Institute for Security Studies.

Chinese scientists make progress on nuclear submarine communication

Retired Chinese general Yao Yunzhu told delegates a new arms control agreement would only work if it included sea- and air-launched missiles, as well as land, because most of China’s military technology was ground-based and the country would not want to put itself at a disadvantage.

Cheaper to build, more mobile and easier to hide, ground-based rocket launchers are an attractive option for China as it develops its armed forces, experts said, whereas the United States operates more costly sea-based systems to comply with the INF.

“China is traditionally a land power and the Chinese military is a ground force,” Yao said.

“If China is to enter into these kinds of negotiations, I think it ought to be more comprehensive to include not only land-based but also air and sea-based strike capabilities … and that would be hugely complicated,” she said.

Source: SCMP

16/02/2019

As the clock ticks, there’s a path to a ‘win-win’ outcome in US-China trade talks

  • Ankit Panda writes that a meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping could result in a way out of the impasse, at least temporarily
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2019, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2019, 6:04pm

The usual cast of characters were back at the negotiating table, trying to find a way to stem another round of US tariff increases that were stayed in December after the Buenos Aires G20 meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were back in Beijing, where they again sat across the table from Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s lead trade negotiator. The US delegation also met Xi himself at the end of the talks on Friday.

Both nations said they had made progress to settle their disputes, but admitted there were still difficult issues to deal with. Negotiators will continue the talks in Washington next week.

The stakes are clear and the clock is ticking. The two sides need to arrive at an understanding by March 2, the day on which Trump has said he will move forward with an increase in tariffs.

At least that was the idea. In recent days, Trump has made multiple remarks that suggest the March deadline is anything but absolute. He has hinted he would be open to pushing it back if he sensed that a deal was around the corner. Reports have even suggested the White House is considering another 60-day extension of the tariff truce.

“They’re showing us tremendous respect,” Trump said of China’s attitude in the negotiations, adding that talks were “going along very well”. With Trump slated to travel to Asia at the end of the month for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, the prospect of a second meeting between him and Xi – right before the anticipated deadline – is very real. What’s slowly slipping through the cracks in this process is a sustainable and long-term agreement on structural reform in China, which is what’s been at the centre of the Trump administration’s trade grievances.

Already articulated US concerns cover a broad range of Chinese practices. The ideal short-term measures the American side would like to see include unconditional market access for US firms in China; a less insulated environment for state-owned enterprise decision making; greater regulatory transparency; and fairer legal protections for American businesses in China.

As with so many aspects of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, the US president’s personality is taking over the process, leaving his deputies who are doing the negotiating in a disadvantageous position. For China, the obvious answer then becomes not to discuss the nuances of what kinds of structural reform might be necessary with Lighthizer, but to simply get Xi in the room with Trump.

This mirrors the lesson that North Korea’s Kim has taken away over the course of nearly a year of negotiations with the US. Instead of expending any serious diplomatic capital in a detail oriented negotiation with the secretary of state or the president’s special representative, the key is to simply meet Trump and work out high-level arrangements mano a mano.

In this climate, we can’t expect a real resolution on the core issues. Everything from American misgivings about Beijing’s interventionist industrial policies that protect Chinese enterprises to broader structural shifts in the nature of the US-China economic relationship since the turn of the century are on the table today – and they’ll stay there.

Xi and Trump may well find a temporary way out of the impasse, giving global investors the runway necessary to avert the panic that would likely ensue if the US pushed ahead with a tariff increase on US$200 billion in Chinese goods. Even if China doesn’t quite give the United States a down payment on structural reforms, Xi can promise Trump that he will chip away at the trade deficit while leaving untouched the issues that a more detail oriented negotiator like Lighthizer might zero in on.

If there is a “win-win” outcome here, it would be for Trump and Xi to find an agreeable arrangement that would allow the US president to walk away looking tough to his base while leaving China’s core, long-term industrial policy trajectory unharmed. That would strip away any remaining negotiating leverage the US side might have within the trade war, and it’s not unlikely.

Source: SCMP

11/02/2019

Pompeo in Hungary on five-nation tour to warn Central Europe about China and Russia

  • A US official said the aim of the top diplomat’s trip is to ‘wrong-foot the West’s rivals in places where they have gained bridgeheads’
  • Warnings will include one about Huawei, as Chinese firm spreads across the region
PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 February, 2019, 9:54pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 February, 2019, 9:54pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Hungary on the first leg of a five-nation European tour during which he will raise concerns about China and Russia’s growing influence in Central Europe.

Pompeo was meeting in Budapest on Monday Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other senior officials to stress the importance of promoting democracy and the rule of law. The US sees those as key to countering Russian and Chinese efforts to pull Hungary and other countries in the region away from the West and sow division in the European Union and Nato, officials said.

Pompeo will specifically point to Central Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and the presence of the Chinese hi-tech telecoms firm Huawei, particularly in Hungary, according to the officials, who were not authorised to publicly discuss Pompeo’s travel and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

US officials are deeply troubled by Huawei’s expansion in Europe, especially in Nato member states where they believe it poses significant information security threats.

We have to show up [in Hungary] or expect to lose
U.S. OFFICIAL

Pompeo will take the same message to his next stop, Slovakia, on Tuesday, before heading to Poland, where he will participate in a conference on the future of the Middle East expected to focus on Iran. He will wrap up the tour with brief stops in Belgium and Iceland.

Before his visits to Budapest and Bratislava, US officials said Pompeo hoped to reverse what they called a decade of US disengagement in Central Europe that created a vacuum Russia and China have exploited. Over the past 10 years, the officials said, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have become much more aggressive in the region and made inroads.

 

One official said Pompeo’s aim is to “wrong-foot the West’s rivals in places where they have gained bridgeheads”.

President Donald Trump’s administration has made a point of reaching out to Orban, who shares Trump’s strong stance on limiting immigration and has adopted increasingly authoritarian measures, including cracking down on the opposition, trade unions, independent media and academia.

Former US president Barack Obama’s administration largely steered clear of Orban, who won a third consecutive term last year in a campaign based on anti-immigration policies which have been met with concern by some EU members.

Orban on Sunday announced a programme to encourage women to have more children and reverse Hungary’s population decline. He said the initiative is meant to “ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation”.

“This is the Hungarians’ answer, not immigration,” he said.

Last month, Orban said he wanted “anti-immigration forces” to become a majority in all EU institutions, including its parliament and the European Commission, and predicted there would soon be two civilisations in Europe – one “that builds its future on a mixed Islamic and Christian coexistence” and another in Central Europe that would be only Christian.

Orban’s fiery rhetoric against immigrants and refusal to join a new European Union public prosecutor’s office focusing on fraud and corruption also have raised concerns.

Human rights groups and others have lamented Pompeo’s plans to meet Orban and urged him to take a strong stance against his policies, which they consider worrisome.

The US officials defended the Budapest stop, saying it is impossible to promote US positions and interests in Hungary effectively without meeting Orban.

“We have to show up or expect to lose,” one official said.

Source: SCMP

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