“If the US truly wants to reach a mutually-beneficial and win-win deal with China, some people in the US must honor the consensus, work in concert with the Chinese side and return to the right track with sincerity”, the People’s Daily said Tuesday, in a characteristically amusing commentary called “Adhere to the principle of consensus consistent in China’s words and deeds”.
In news that will surprise exactly nobody, Beijing and the Trump administration have been unable to agree to the terms for September trade talks in Washington following a series of escalations and shrill rhetoric that only abated last week, after Trump imagined a phone call between Chinese officials and his “top trade people”.
Trump struck a reasonably upbeat tone in remarks to reporters on Friday before departing for Camp David to watch the hurricane on TV, but three days later, there’s been no progress, a state of affairs Axios described on Sunday.
“In conversations over the past week, the two sides have failed to agree on at least two requests — an American appeal to set some parameters for the next round of talks and a Chinese call to delay new tariffs”, a pair of sources who spoke to Bloomberg said.
Trump of course moved ahead with the new duties on Sunday, despite knowing it would rankle Beijing and in the face of domestic criticism from all corners including, naturally, trade groups, who penned a desperate letter to the White House on Wednesday.
On Monday, China indicated they will file a complaint at the WTO centered around the new levies, to which Beijing retaliated.
The US president’s latest comments to reporters found him parroting the same old lines about being “ripped off”, while idly musing about the unscheduled next round of talks. “China is moving along, we’re doing very well”, he said. “We are talking to China, the meeting is still on as you know, in September. That hasn’t changed — they haven’t changed it, we haven’t. We’ll see what happens. But we can’t allow China to rip us off anymore as a country”.
On Friday, Trump resorted to blaming US businesses for being “weak” in the face of the prolonged trade dispute which is set to weigh on corporate profitability and has devastated farmers, despite billions in bailout money.
China, meanwhile, has seemingly come to terms with the morass and is now content to repeat its own go-to lines. “The most important thing at present is to create the necessary conditions for continuing the trade talks”, Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday.
For their part, China’s National Narcotics Control Commission seems to be suggesting that the White House is being disingenuous about the fentanyl issue. “Fentanyl abuse in the US is mainly due to problems in the country itself”, the commission said, in a statement at a briefing in Beijing, adding that “China hasn’t found any fentanyl smuggling cases since May”.
Trump and Peter Navarro have repeatedly insisted that one reason why the White House escalated the tensions anew on August 1 was tied to Xi breaking his promise on stopping the flow of illegal fentanyl into the US.
“Trump’s tweet criticizing China’s fentanyl control is inconsistent with facts”, Liu Yuejin, Vice Commissioner of China National Narcotics Control Commission, said Tuesday. Liu went on to say that any assertions about fentanyl illegally manufactured in China coming into the US through Mexico “are the fantasies of some US politicians”.
“The world is sighing, so how can China-US economic and trade issues be resolved”, the People’s Daily asked, on Tuesday. “Based on the principle of consensus, this is an international practice”, the paper said, answering its own question, before lamenting that “obviously, some people in the United States lack basic self-consciousness and introspection”.