In assailing China’s trade practices, President Trump has found support across much of the U.S. political spectrum. But to achieve its goals, the administration needs to devise a more coherent, realistic, and collaborative strategy.
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un each departed their historic summit in Singapore on June 12 with a set of results that lay the groundwork for further negotiations. The finer details of a deal will be left up to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart.
China's new National Supervision Commission is charged with fighting corruption, but it is answerable only to the Chinese Communist Party. As such, the operation of this new branch of government seems at odds with Xi’s law-based governance ambition.
China looms large in U.S.-North Korea diplomacy. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Cheng Li characterizes Kim Jong-un’s meetings with Xi Jinping as an acknowledgment of the essential role China will play in resolving tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “The North Korean leader understands this — without China’s support, you cannot get anything done.”
Pulling U.S. troops from South Korea could carry larger consequences. “The fear is if we were going to draw down our presence [in Korea], the only place we would still have permanent troops in northeast Asia is Japan,” Ryan Hass tells Politico. “I can imagine a situation where Japanese voters start asking, ‘Why are we the only suckers in Asia stuck with American troops?’”
Domestic considerations constrain U.S. and Chinese leaders in trade conflict. The view that China and the United States will find a middle ground that allows both to declare victory on trade is hardly guaranteed. “Even though it’s an authoritarian country, public opinion [in China] matters,” says David Dollar in an interview with The Washington Post.
About The China Center
The John L. Thornton China Center develops timely, independent analysis and policy recommendations to help U.S. and Chinese leaders address key long-term challenges, both in terms of U.S.-China relations and China's internal development.