(Los Angeles Times) Even by President Trump's unpredictable and bare-knuckles style of negotiating, his economic team's visit to Beijing in recent days to confront China on trade was both bewildering and, for many in both countries and beyond, worrisome.
Worrisome because the two-day meeting that concluded Friday showed that the U.S. and China are miles apart, making the threat of a trade war very real. There was no joint communique afterward or any official word on when, or whether, they would meet again.
And bewildering because the indications are that the two sides talked past each other, with Trump's high-level emissaries presenting an eight-point set of demands that analysts called so far-fetched that no country would accept it, let alone China — a rising superpower whose national pride is wrapped up in a historical narrative of overcoming century-long subjugation by foreign powers.
The U.S. demands, spelled out as a draft framework for negotiations, not only call for China to cut its $337-billion trade surplus with America by more than half, $200 billion, and immediately halt state support for President Xi Jinping's signature "Made in China 2025" industrial policy. But also, they say that Beijing must refrain from retaliating or filing legal challenges should the United States slap tariffs or investment restrictions against China.