On Sunday morning, US Eastern Time, President Trump tweeted thus:
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done! [Link]
Too many China jobs lost?! One thought it was all about restoring American jobs!
Even if China had made an important concession somewhere in return, the following questions need to be asked:
(1) Given China’s record of honuring (or, not honouring), how credible those commitments will be?
(2) If they are on the defensive – as they appear to be – why not hold out for more?
(3) The issues are supposed to be more about technology and China 2025 goals. ZTE is part of it. It has parted with technology secrets to Iran, Sudan, North Korea, etc. There is a presentation on its egregious ways. So, giving it a lifeline means that they get the message that they can get away with anything. This creates a moral hazard
(4) Is he counting his chickens little too soon, in general?
This Wall Street Journal column is as puzzled as this blogger is as to what the ‘Grand Bargain’ is. Unless it is something substantial, concrete, verifiable, binding and irrevocable, Trump may have given away his chips too easily, massively denting his own reputation as a negotiator in the process and also creating hopelessness in the ranks of other nations that may have been silently hoping that he would succeed in making China change its ways.