Chinese state media slams US ahead of Xi-Trump talks

US President Donald Trump greets Chinese President Xi Jinping as other world leaders look on during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019.
US President Donald Trump greets Chinese President Xi Jinping as other world leaders look on during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Despite the highly anticipated meeting today between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Donald Trump, China's state media has not let up on criticising the United States.

Rather than urging both sides to cooperate and compromise, as they usually do ahead of such a key meeting, state media outlets from the nationalist Global Times to the Chinese Communist Party's official People's Daily kept up the attacks against the US, including its "maximum pressure" tactics and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Experts say the editorials and commentaries reflect the thinking of China's top leadership, and suggest that Beijing remains cautious about the possibility of a trade deal.

The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that teams from both sides were in close communication, and urged the US to join China "to push for a positive result".

Just a day earlier, the People's Daily, in an editorial slamming the US as "the international community's troublemaker", said: "Some people in the US... believe in the idea of a 'zero-sum game'. They won't hesitate to harm the interests of other countries in seeking their so-called absolute security - this does not benefit global peace and security, and is not in line with the trend of the times."

The Global Times yesterday warned in an editorial that using tariffs to pressure China into a deal will not work.

The escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies has already seen tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on US$360 billion (S$487 billion) worth of goods.

 
 
 
 

Mr Trump has threatened to also impose tariffs on the remaining US$300 billion worth of Chinese imports, calling it his "Plan B" if negotiations do not pan out after his meeting with Mr Xi.

"Exerting pressure on the other side before important meetings or negotiations is an old tactic that the US side often adopts. The Chinese side is overly familiar with their modus operandi and will not fall for it," the Global Times said.

The nationalist tabloid also did not spare Mr Pompeo, whom it called "complainer-in-chief" for canvassing international support against China.

"He is becoming hysterical, using his power to blend his personal anti-China will with US national policy," it said.

Unusually, state news broadcaster CCTV, which reports content from Xinhua news agency and People's Daily, featured one of the Global Times' articles on its prime-time news bulletin.

Professor Shi Yinhong of Renmin University said Beijing recognises that the possibility of reaching a deal in the short term is "quite low", even if both sides resume trade talks.

"Having negotiations does not mean both sides can reach a deal. The positions of China and the US now look to be too far apart," said Prof Shi, adding that the Chinese media is reflecting Beijing's cautious expectations of a deal and preparing for a protracted trade war.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'Chinese state media slams US ahead of Xi-Trump talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe