Give and take win­ning propo­si­tion in trade talks

China Daily - - COMMENT -

With US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweet­ing that there has been no fold­ing, and Chi­nese Com­merce Min­istry spokesman Gao Feng say­ing that China is pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity of an es­ca­la­tion of their trade dis­putes, both sides set out their re­spec­tive po­si­tions for their trade talks in Wash­ing­ton.

In do­ing so doused hopes that the two sides will be able to re­solve their dif­fer­ences dur­ing their sec­ond round of talks.

How­ever, it is still pos­si­ble to take the view that the glass is half full. Al­though it is prov­ing dif­fi­cult to reach a mu­tu­ally sat­is­fac­tory so­lu­tion, the fact that the two sides are still will­ing to talk in­di­cates nei­ther con­sid­ers it an im­pos­si­bil­ity.

Both sides know it is in their own in­ter­ests to find a so­lu­tion, as a trade war would be dam­ag­ing to both economies.

In­deed, the two sides reached a con­sen­sus on some ba­sic prin­ci­ples for deal­ing with the dis­pute in their Bei­jing talks ear­lier this month. That they failed to ham­mer out con­crete plans to act on it was be­cause the United States made un­re­al­is­tic de­mands of China.

Which is why Trump’s tweet has been viewed as cause for pes­simism. Al­though, the two sides are in­volved in a high-stakes game, it is not one where win­ner takes all. If that is the at­ti­tude the US has taken into the cur­rent ne­go­ti­a­tions and in­sists on, then the odds on reach­ing an agree­ment are go­ing to be ex­tremely long.

When speak­ing with for­mer US sec­re­tary of state Henry Kissinger and some US law­mak­ers on Wed­nes­day, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s spe­cial en­voy Vice-Premier Liu He, who is head­ing the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion, said China is ac­tively ex­plor­ing ways to reach a proper set­tle­ment of the two coun­tries’ trade is­sues.

If the US demon­strates the same will­ing­ness to solve the prob­lems that ex­ist, and it is re­al­is­tic about what it can gain, there is no rea­son why a so­lu­tion to the on­go­ing trade fric­tions can­not be found.

China and the US have been able to over­come their dif­fi­cul­ties in the past. And they can do so this time if they each han­dle the other’s con­cerns with re­spect and are will­ing to take con­crete ac­tions to ad­dress them.

But to strike a bar­gain, Wash­ing­ton should lower the price it is de­mand­ing. Bei­jing can­not do things be­yond its ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

This is a chance for the two sides to ad­just their trade re­la­tions to the ben­e­fit of both. For­tune will fa­vor them both better if they are not at odds with one an­other.

Both will be win­ners if they strike a deal.

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