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Art of wait and see

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By Keyu Jin

BEIJING ― Those now hoping for an eventual trade deal between China and the United States should not hold their breath. Contrary to what U.S. President Donald Trump seems to think, the Chinese have not reached their wits' end, and will not suddenly accede to his demands.

A successful negotiation usually requires that each side understand the other's perspective. One can question the wisdom of China's approach to the dispute thus far, but without a deeper apprehension of the country's short- and long-term thinking, little progress will be made.

Trump's supporters insist that he should be taken seriously, not literally. Chinese leaders seem to agree. They have shrugged off the Trump administration's excessive and unreasonable demands, but harbor little doubts about its intent: to keep China down.

That objective has little to do with specific business concerns, and may even derive from "civilizational" ― if not racist ― hostility. The Chinese thus have had to adjust their strategic calculus, both in the short and long run.

Beyond the latest "truce" between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China's overall approach to the trade dispute is to play it cool. The Chinese have realized with hindsight that appearing too eager for a deal made them look weak and vulnerable during the earlier stages of the conflict.

They now know that if you give Trump an inch, he will try to take a mile. After China offered major concessions in the last round of talks in May, the U.S. threatened to impose still more........

© The Korea Times