It’s hard to know what to make of the administration’s China “strategy” at this point.
One day, Trump is sitting across the table from Xi in Buenos Aires having an amicable chat over dinner about deescalating trade tensions and implementing a 90-day ceasefire, and the next day (or actually no, it was the same day and, by some accounts, at the exact same time), the U.S. is compelling Canada to arrest high profile Chinese executives in Vancouver.
Tuesday morning started off well when Bloomberg reported that China was moving forward with plans to slash tariffs on U.S.-built cars to 15% from the current 40%, in keeping with promises Trump
tweeted made last Monday.
That, on the heels of reports that Mnuchin and Lighthizer are at least on speaking terms with Vice Premier Liu He.
Fast forward to 11:30-ish and the Washington Post reported that Trump is all set to go ahead with “a series of actions this week to call out Beijing for what the U.S. says are China’s continued efforts to steal America’s trade secrets and advanced technologies and compromise sensitive government and corporate computers.”
And it gets better (or worse, depending on how you want to look at things). Here, I’ll just let the Post tell you about it:
Multiple government agencies are expected to condemn China, citing a documented campaign of economic espionage and the alleged violation of alandmark 2015 pact to refrain from hacking for commercial gain.
In perhaps the most significant move, the Justice Department is expected to announce the indictments of multiple hackers suspected ofworking for a Chinese intelligence service and participatingin a long-running espionage campaign that targeted U.S. networks.
Along with that, the administration is planning to declassify intelligence relating to the breaches, which date to 2014, and to sanction some of those believed responsible, according to people familiar with the plans.
I don’t know about anybody else, but that sounds like it has the potential to exacerbate tensions, especially when you think about it in the context of the Meng arrest.
Apparently, this coordinated effort is meant to send a message to Beijing about America’s resolve when it comes to preventing China from overtaking the U.S. as a world leader in technology. That is a highly contentious issue for Xi as Beijing has made clear over and over again.
And listen, if that wasn’t enough to dent risk sentiment, Trump decided to say this about shutting down the government over that damn wall:
Now that is some wild sh*t right there – there’s just no other way to put it.
So, I don’t know. If you got up this morning and saw those encouraging car tariff headlines and thought things might be ok, I regret to inform you that things are every bit as crazy (if not more so) as they were yesterday when it comes to both foreign and domestic policy.
In case it isn’t clear enough (and I think it is), this administration is completely off the rails. It’s not funny but then again, watch that clip again and tell me you didn’t laugh.