Trump's 'barking dogs' lack Art of Deal, ex-People's Bank of China adviser Says

Dr Li Daokui, a former People's Bank of China adviser, is now an economics professor at Tsinghua University.
Dr Li Daokui, a former People's Bank of China adviser, is now an economics professor at Tsinghua University.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - The US trade team's antagonistic posture in Beijing last week makes it more difficult to solve disputes, yet an accord remains possible, said a former People's Bank of China adviser.

"Trump has sent out a team of barking dogs - forgive my language, I have full respect for these American officials, but they're perceived to be overly aggressive, unnecessarily aggressive by the Chinese general public," Dr Li Daokui, now an economics professor at Tsinghua University, said on Tuesday (May 8) in a Bloomberg Television interview in Beijing.

The posture of the delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made reaching a deal difficult and left China cornered with no choice but to retaliate, said Dr Li, founding dean of Tsinghua's Schwarzman College, a new business programme backed by Blackstone Group LP Chairman Stephen Schwarzman.

The US should send officials who are cooperative, effective, and less high-profile, Dr Li told Bloomberg's Stephen Engle on the sidelines of the JPMorgan Global China Summit in Beijing.

The White House said on Monday that Vice-Premier Liu He, President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, plans to visit Washington next week to resume negotiations.

Criticisms aside, Dr Li says he re-read Donald Trump's 1987 book The Art of the Deal, and bought 50 copies of the Chinese version for friends who influence policy to help them learn about the unconventional President.

"We have to understand his mentality, his tactics," said Dr Li, who spent almost 15 years in the US.

"I truly respect President Trump. I say this on record. He's a wonderful business person."

But after re-reading the book, Dr Li concludes "this isn't a way of negotiation, not a way of Art of Deal. This is a business negotiation where one side demands everything, leaving zero surplus, profit for the other side."