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The Art of Wait and See

Following yet another "truce" between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Sino-American negotiations over trade, technology, and related issues appear to be back on. But those hoping for a respite in the escalating rivalry should not hold their breath.

BEIJING – Those now hoping for an eventual trade deal between China and the United States should not hold their breath. Contrary to what US President Donald Trump seems to think, the Chinese have not reached their wits’ end, and will not suddenly accede to his demands.

A successful negotiation usually requires that each side understand the other’s perspective. One can question the wisdom of China’s approach to the dispute thus far, but without a deeper apprehension of the country’s short- and long-term thinking, little progress will be made.

Trump’s supporters insist that he should be taken seriously, not literally. Chinese leaders seem to agree. They have shrugged off the Trump administration’s excessive and unreasonable demands, but harbor little doubts about its intent: to keep China down. That objective has little to do with specific business concerns, and may even derive from “civilizational” – if not racist – hostility. The Chinese thus have had to adjust their strategic calculus, both in the short and long run.

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