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How likely is China to agree to Trump's trade terms?


11 months agoSteemit2 min read

I should go on record with a prediction, tentative as it may be, rather than merely nitpicking. With full recognition that I am merely conversant in foreign policy rather than being anything resembling an expert, and that it would be generous to describe me as even minimally conversant on Chinese politics, I draw on strategic behaviour analysis to make the following prediction.


  1. China recognises this as part of an iterated game rather than a single-shot game, so therefore their choice of moves affects not only the outcome in this case but the range or strength of choices open to them in the future. I.e., reputation matters.

  2. That being so, China does not want to be seen to give in to pressure (the "being seen" is more important than the actuality).

  3. China can see that the election is not much more than a year off and that Trump's chances for reelection are highly uncertain.

Therefore, I predict that China will not give in to U.S. demands prior to Nov. 3, 2020, unless it finds, or is given by Trump, a way to do so without appearing to have succumbed to economic pressure.

That does not preclude a return to the bargaining table, which itself can be a means of further delay. I don't think it precludes small concessions that don't satisfy the primary demands, either, although I could not in advance set a clear standard for identifying what counts as a small rather than a significant concession.

Smart readers will notice that I am fudging in the last sentence. I think it's a fair fudge, but others will be more proper judges of whether concessions are small or significant, as I cannot properly be a judge (although I can be an advocate!) where I have an interest.


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