Trade War: US delegation heads for Beijing, Trump picks China-hawk to run World Bank

Speculation rife that Trump may meet with Xi Jinping in late February, may coincide with Kim Jong Eun summit in Vietnam, Feb. 27-28

Trump at 2019 SOTU address

Trump at 2019 SOTU address (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On the heels of President Trump’s State of the Union address, a new round of trade talks has been announced for next week in Beijing.

According to reports, the U.S. delegation will be led by Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

The delegation is planning to head to Beijing this coming weekend to resume talks with Chinese officials following the Lunar New Year holidays, reports Reuters.

Following the last round of talks in Washington at the end of January, U.S. officials said there was still much more progress required on issues of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

Observers speculate that Beijing is eager to reach a deal in order to avoid the imposition of any new tariffs targeting Chinese products imported to the U.S.

Trump has repeatedly stated that if a satisfactory deal cannot be reached before March 1, he is prepared to introduce tariffs targeting another US$265 billion dollars of products, in addition to tariffs already in place. The date of March 1 will mark the end of the 90 day trade war armistice agreed to at the G20 Summit in Argentina on Dec. 1, 2018.

At the State of the Union address on Feb. 5, President Trump emphasized the U.S. would accept nothing less than an equitable trade relationship with China following “decades of calamitous trade policies.”

“We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.

Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods… I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.”

Another potential development in the U.S.-China trade conflict is the report that the Trump administration is preparing to nominate Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs, David Malpass, as World Bank president.

Malpass is widely considered a China-hawk, and has previously encouraged the World Bank to decrease its financial support of several Chinese projects, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

At a time when China’s economy is experiencing a gradual slowdown and may be headed for a sudden shock, the appointment of Malpass to head the World Bank could create further tension between Washington and Beijing.

Previously, Trump has said that no trade deal will be made final until he meets directly with chairman Xi Jinping. There has been speculation that a meeting may be organized between the two world leaders very soon.

Last Sunday, it was reported that Trump and Xi may be planning to meet in Da Nang, Vietnam on Feb. 27-28, just before the end of the 90 day trade war armistice.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the same dates and location were confirmed by President Trump in his State of the Union address as the dates for a second summit meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Eun.