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Fasten your seatbelts, China has drawn its red lines against Trump

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12.06.2019

This time last month, I was having breakfast with a Chinese friend in Chengdu, the prosperous provincial capital of Sichuan, discussing the increasingly toxic US-China relationship. The only newspaper available that morning was the less-than-world-renowned Chengdu Commercial Daily. But the headlines that day took my eye, particularly the bright red-lined box high on the front page, announcing publicly for the first time China’s three new red lines in the ongoing US-China trade war.

Mysteriously these also happened to be the headlines in every newspaper in China that day. I hadn’t seen such editorial discipline since Murdoch’s coverage of the Australian elections.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.Credit:AP

It was clear we were now in a whole new world of pain in bringing an end to an increasingly debilitating trade war. China would not now be budging on America’s insistence on retaining tariffs for a period after the deal’s signing; nor would it accept the US unilaterally reimposing tariffs in the future if the US deemed China not to be complying, while denying China the right to take retaliatory measures; nor President Trump’s ever-inflating “purchasing order” for American goods that China would be required to buy to bring down the bilateral trade deficit to a number of Trump’s
choosing.

The significance of all this was not the substance of........

© The Age