On June 28 and 29, the annual summit of the top 20 economies will gather in Osaka. The center of attention will be on the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jiping.
The main topic would be trade between the two nations, a dragging conflict that has been affecting the relations. Both sides have slapped high duties on the imports from each other, which has become a kind of retaliation game. Therefore, this will be a very important meeting, as according to the Treasruy Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a trade deal is “about 90%” done.
Trump, however, in the interview with Fox business hours before his flight to Osaka said, “China’s economy is going down the tube—they want to make a deal.” And making a deal is one of Trump’s greatest talents.
However, making a deal with a formal agreement does not seem to be the case. Analysts said there is only a slim chance. Instead it is more likely that they will come up with another truce, like the one they made in the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires last December.
It seems that the rift in US-China trade and investment relations isn’t actually about trade. Trump, playing his role seriously as policeman of the world, wants to regulate China’s practices in technology transfer, investment restrictions, and foreign investment policies. This might also not be too far from what Xi is thinking, as he is still facing great opposition from the ultra communist old guard of the past regime, lead by ex-leader Jiang Zemin. Being surrounded by these people, he faces and uphill battle to breaking loose and lead China on the path to possible political change.
Maybe President Trump is helping Xi indirectly by pressuring him on China and going after the big Chinese companies such as Huawei that expanded during the Jiang regime and which Xi has not been able to touch yet.
It is difficult to think that the whole show of meetings and talks is simply about tariffs. Xi might also be helping President Trump by giving him economic growth and a reputation, as Trump slaps duties on Chinese good. Trump is doing this for America’s economy, an important factor for his 2020 election. In turn, as in any deal, Trump has to help Xi in many other ways. When the curtain falls on this whole show with the actors from all countries, we will find that President Trump is possibly the greatest actor and dealmaker of all time.