Foreign policy expert warns Trump's new China deal just shows that he 'is getting played'

Foreign policy expert warns Trump's new China deal just shows that he 'is getting played'
President Donald J. Trump joins Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, at the start of their bilateral meeting Saturday, June 29, 2019, at the G20 Japan Summit in Osaka, Japan. ( Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

On Friday, the United States and China officially announced the first phase of a trade deal — and the elements of the deal, CNBC reports, include some tariff relief and more agricultural purchases. President Donald Trump has boasted that he negotiated an “amazing deal,” but Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin (who is known for writing about foreign policy and national security) fears that Trump has been played by the Chinese government.

The White House, according to CNBC, plans to cancel a 15% tariff on roughly $160 billion in Chinese goods. And Trump has tweeted that the White House plans to maintain 25% tariffs on $250 billion in imports but reduce duties on another $120 billion worth of products to 7.5%.

Rogin, reacting to details of the deal reported Thursday, acknowledges that the deal “will surely boost markets in the short term” and “provide a temporary de-escalation of the U.S./China trade war.” But that, Rogin stresses, doesn’t mean that the deal will be advantageous for the U.S. in the long run.

Trump’s administration, Rogin’s sources told him, “wanted to freeze tariffs in exchange for Beijing agreeing to purchase more U.S. agricultural products and granting more market access for U.S. financial firms. But China wouldn’t sign off, demanding the White House sweeten the pot by offering substantial tariff rollbacks as well.” And Rogin, based on reporting by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, expected a deal that “immediately relieves major pressure on the Chinese economy in exchange for future promises the Chinese side may never fulfill.”

Moreover, Rogin warns, “Beijing’s concessions also don’t address the bulk of the structural issues and abuses that make Chinese economic aggression a long-term threat to the U.S. economy.”

CNBC reported, on Friday, that the deal included “structural change to intellectual property and technology issues.” But Rogin fears that China won’t live up to its end of the bargain where intellectual property is concerned. China, according to Rogin, has “made and broken” promises to “better secure intellectual property rights…. many times before.”

“Administration officials say the tough structural issues — including China’s economic espionage, forced technology transfer and unfair subsidies — would be tackled in a subsequent Phase Two agreement,” Rogin writes. “But few believe that will ever happen.”

Rogin also fears that Trump moved too quickly, warning, “A bad deal is worse than no deal. That’s why Trump was right when he said last week he likes the idea of waiting until after the election to make a deal with China.”

Rogin observes that Derek Scissors, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has said of the deal, “There is pretty much consensus there’s not going to be any meaningful Phase Two.”

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