China Still Has No Idea What Phone Calls Trump Was Talking About

Surprise! China still has no idea what Donald Trump was talking about on Monday when, during remarks to reporters in France, the US president claimed “China called our top trade people last night and said ‘let’s get back to the table'”.

Subsequently, US equity futures bounced and sentiment stabilized further (“further” because things were already on the mend thanks to level-headed comments from Liu He delivered hours earlier) after an initial bout of harrowing FX trading coming off the weekend.

Both Global Times Hu Xijin and Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang later said Beijing wasn’t aware of such calls to Trump’s “top trade people”.

Read more: Trump Says ‘China Called Last Night’. China Says ‘Hasn’t Heard Of Such A Thing’

Fast forward to Tuesday and Beijing is still bewildered.

“I’m not aware of that”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at the daily briefing, of Trump’s continued insistence that there have been high-level phone calls between the two sides over the past 24-48 hours.

“Regretfully the US has announced its decision to add new tariffs on Chinese products [and] such maximum pressure will hurt both sides and is not constructive at all”, he added.

Again, there’s a sense in which what “matters” is that Trump’s willingness to fabricate a dialogue suggests that vaunted “Trump put” has kicked in – that his pain threshold on the S&P was four straight weeks of losses.

But that doesn’t mean the US president should knowingly lie to the public about something so trivial as to whether or not a phone call did or didn’t take place. Trump might have just said he didn’t intend to escalate things further until such a time as Bob Lighthizer has talked face-to-face with Liu He. That would have accomplished the same thing, but the US president is so fixated on making China seem desperate that he conjured a phone call which clearly didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, state-run Xinhua was out with another “commentary” that strikes a defiant tone. “China has sufficient means to fight back and chooses to act in a way that is refrained and responsible to both the Chinese, the Americans and the world at large”, the piece reads. “Playing the old tricks of bullying and maximum pressure, the US administration has escalated the trade tensions repeatedly and tried to coerce China into accepting its irrational demands”.

Xinhua insists that “China did not and will not surrender”.

“We hope the US can exercise restraint, come back to reason and create conditions for our consultation based on mutual respect equality and mutual benefit”, China’s Geng went on to say Tuesday.

Now maybe Jim Cramer has something else he’d like to add.


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3 thoughts on “China Still Has No Idea What Phone Calls Trump Was Talking About

  1. Trump fabricated the phone call because that’s what he does: he lies about everything, all the time — and has been doing it for almost fifty years. That’ll be how history judges him: “He lied.”

  2. Think about what impact Trump’s behavior and false statements are having on Xi and the Chinese leadership. They should perceive:
    – Trump is increasingly anxious and desperate, his vulnerability is showing clearly through his bluster and threats.
    – His position is eroding with every additional month of trade war.
    – He is as concerned about short-term stock market moves as he is about the fundamentals of trade, IP, and security.
    – Trade negotiations give him a means to boost stock prices, even if nothing is accomplished or they don’t actually happen.
    – Agreements mean little to him, and an agreement made when he is in a weaker position are likely to be torn up when he feels stronger.

    They should also see that Trump is weakening and fragmenting the US-led Western powers.

    Even though Trump is causing China pain with his trade war, in the longer view it may be in China’s best interests for Trump to remain President for another term or three.

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