Trade Deal No Panacea for Rocky U.S. Relations With China

From Huawei to the South China Sea, deep political rifts between Beijing and Washington are set to persist, despite a trade relations breakthrough, as the United States pushes back against an increasingly powerful and assertive China.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have deteriorated sharply since U.S. President Donald Trump imposed punitive trade tariffs in 2018, igniting a trade war.

“The broader, darkening picture is not going to be brightened much by this deal,” Bates Gill, an expert on Chinese security policy at Macquarie University in Sydney, said of the initial trade deal signed on Wednesday.

This backdrop spans China’s militarization of the South China Sea; rising tensions over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own; U.S. criticism over human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang and a backlash against telecoms gear provider Huawei.

While the initial deal defuses an 18-month row that has hit global growth, experts say it is unlikely to provide much balm for broader frictions rooted in U.S. fears over an economically and technologically powerful China with a modernizing military.

“We can see Phase 1 as an emergency treatment to lower the temperature, but it has not addressed the fundamental problems,” Wang Heng, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who studies the China-U.S. economic relationship, said.


Washington is increasingly alarmed about the security implications of Chinese technology, and has tightened its rules to keep better tabs on acquisition of key technology by China, setting in motion changes to the global supply chain.

“The Chinese leadership are not naive about this,” said Gill. “They are already making moves to be more autonomous and thinking about a future … in an environment of hostility.”

The Trump administration put Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co on a trade blacklist on national security concerns in May, banning it from buying supplies from American firms without U.S. government approval.

It has also taken measures to crimp exports of artificial intelligence software.

The two countries are also at odds over Taiwan, which counts the United States as its biggest weapons supplier but which China sees as one of its provinces.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected on Saturday, vowing not to submit to Chinese pressure or control.

Tsai’s campaign was helped by seven months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, which Beijing accuses Washington of helping to foment, eroding China’s case for a “one country, two-systems model” similar to Hong Kong’s for Taiwan.

U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said last week that China “will emerge as America’s strategic threat” and that the United States planned to deploy two task forces to the Pacific over the next two years capable of information, electronic, cyber and missile operations against Beijing.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that the United States was concerned about other issues involving China but these should be dealt with separately.

“You have to negotiate different pieces at different times”.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Phil Stewart and Andrea Shalal in Washington and Cate Cadell, Stella Qiu and Tony Munroe in Beijing; Editing by Alexander Smith)


  1. The General is caught once more playing with his privates! The US was heavily engaged in freeing China from their Japanese invaders. Ever heard of World War 2? Or is the Asian Theater where children like you go to watch Hollywood’s remakes of remakes (because they no longer have any creativity).

    The communist take over of China occurred after we freed them.

    GCO, you’re an example of a tiny unit being a dangerous thing. You spend more time looking for it than stroking it. It’s interfering with the brainwashing by all the Lib-Idiot websites you visit!

  2. I think China forgot something rather important that if not for the United States. They would be currently getting raped on a national level by their oh so cruel Japanese masters. They wouldn’t even exist as a country today and would mostly be of Japanese heritage at this point. I think China should just focus on maybe not creating so much pollution they have to sell canned fresh air like this is Spaceballs. Work on not using child slave labor and sweetshops in general and bullying the Philippines.

    1. This is an example of a tiny bit of knowledge being a dangerous thing.

  3. Trying to right the past Presidents blunders with the Chinese is no easy task but we finally have a leader that is making some headway with the Chi-Coms who cannot be trusted ever.

  4. Thanks Reuters for more negativity. President Trump is at the very least making attempts to reach out to China. Even Romney addressed the threats China poses to freedom around the world. Not a fan of his but he was correct.

  5. China’s hegemonic tendencies are well known. This trade deal is but a holding action pending the U.S. shifting its focus from the Middle East to the western Pacific. Now if the U.S. can only remove itself from a 1300 year old internecine war between Muslims over patches of sand and take the advice of Alexander the Great and the British Empire to leave that scat trap known as Afghanistan, it will be able to focus on China, the most dangerous enemy.

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