One day after Trump took a victory lap to celebrate “Phase 1” of the China trade non-deal that was “reached” almost two years after the US first launched tariffs on Chinese imports as part of an ever-escalating and bitter civilizational feud between the two superpowers…
… and which failed to resolve virtually any of the core outstanding issues but merely delayed implementation of next week’s tariffs in exchange for more imports of US pork and soybeans (which China desperately needs anyway), one question emerged: Has it really all been worth it?
Consider what Trump touted as “the big win”: as Bloomberg notes, the surge in Chinese purchases of U.S. farm products that is the biggest victory for Trump in the agreement unveiled Friday is one that was first offered by Beijing more than two years ago. It will be accompanied by unspecified commitments – i.e., placeholders that will never be implemented – on intellectual property and currency and would, in theory, go some way to repairing the damage done to U.S. agriculture since tit-for-tat tariffs began more than 18 months ago.
In practice, they will remain just that: theoretical constructs that will be kicked back again and again as China will never concede to giving the US even implicit control over its currency, nor would it ever agree to an enforceable process that punishes it for reverse engineering US tech: after all,