US-China battles reduce chances of trade deal

Culture wars. Visa bans. Black-listed companies. The National Basketball Association pulled into the mother of all disputes. And that’s just the opening salvos.

Chinese and U.S. negotiators are due to sit down tomorrow in Washington and talk about ways to end a trade war that’s dragged on — causing economic damage on both sides — for more than a year.

In an environment of escalating tit-for-tat between the world’s two biggest economies, the prospects for a breakthrough are slim. The U.S. is pressing on China’s hot buttons of governance and human rights, and President Donald Trump has hinted at linking the trade tensions with Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Even without the other noise, the issues are complex. The U.S. wants China to agree to changes in the way it manages state enterprises and intellectual property. Beijing favors a much narrower focus on trade in goods and helping the U.S. winnow its deficit.

Beijing is still open to a partial deal, an official says. If no more tariffs are imposed (one round is due to take effect this month), China would offer more purchases of agricultural products.

That may not be enough for the Americans. As Trump battles an impeachment effort at home and the 2020 election turns increasingly fraught, he needs a big win. And the broader fight between the U.S. and China for dominance will last long after Trump has left.

Now read: The US-China relationship is swiftly deteriorating

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US-China battles reduce chances of trade deal