Asia Minute: Trade and Politics Influencing China Policy

Oct 9, 2019

China and the United States resume trade discussion tomorrow in Washington. While the talks focus on economics, they’re also influenced by politics.

Expectations have shrunk for the next round of U.S.-China trade talks — the first since May. The South China Morning Post reports the Chinese delegation may cut the talks short by a day.

Vice-Premier Liu He will again lead the Chinese side, but he won’t carry the additional title of “special envoy” for President Xi Jinping — another sign of modest expectations.

Recent news about China and the U.S. has not focused on trade.

Last week, President Trump said China should investigate Joe Biden and his son — a suggestion a Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed on Tuesday.

This week, a tweet supporting protestors in Hong Kong from the general manager of the Houston Rockets reminded the National Basketball Association and the rest of the world that there are complications about doing business in China that go way beyond intellectual property and state-owned enterprises.

Monday, the Commerce Department added to the list of companies not allowed to buy products from U.S. companies — including several leading start-ups in artificial intelligence. The reason: aiding what the U.S. government calls the “repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-technology surveillance” targeting Muslims in western China.

Tuesday, U.S. officials announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials for similar reasons.

Back on the trade front, without an agreement, additional tariffs are set to go into effect next Tuesday –with deeper tariffs targeting consumer goods scheduled to hit in December.