What was worse about President Trump’s decision to let China off the currency manipulator hook (for now) was its geopolitical rationale.
[Alan Tonelson] April 20th, 2017 [Industry Today]
What was worst about President Trump’s decision yesterday to let China off the currency manipulator hook (for now) was not the scrapping of a long-time campaign promise it represented. What was worst about the decision was its geopolitical rationale – that is, Mr. Trump’s judgment that major Chinese cooperation in reining in North Korea’s nuclear program could be secured if his administration moderates or delays various efforts to counter Beijing’s trade predation.
Nonetheless, some recent developments also presage reasons for modest optimism that a sounder approach to currency manipulation by China (and other countries), at least, will eventually emerge if it becomes clear Beijing is welshing on this deal.
The president’s new China policy makes least sense from a pure negotiating tactics standpoint. After all, what course of action could now be more tempting than for China to keep stringing America along with promises to get tough on North Korea, and even with token actions suggesting that meat is being put on these bones? Think “Charlie Brown,” “Lucy,” and “football.” And how will the president decide that his gamble has failed?
Moreover, Mr. Trump’s own views of China’s clout with North Korea seem confused, at best. On the one hand, the president must (logically) believe that China can make much more of a difference in resolving the North Korea situation than it’s so far chosen to. Why else would he offer China the valuable benefit of better terms of trade than it would otherwise receive? On the other hand, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal “After listening for 10 minutes [to Chinese leader Xi Jinping at their summit a week ago], I realized it’s not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.” So here he’s indicating that Beijing can’t help decisively at all.