Trade truce reflects different ideas on how to deal with China

PHOTO: AFP

The truce that US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced over the weekend at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires creates a pause in what is framed as a trade conflict. On a deeper level, however, the truce is between competing factions within the Trump administration that disagree fundamentally over how to pursue relations with China.

On one side are those, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who believe that China's leaders can be persuaded to stop stealing US technology and respect US intellectual property. On the other side are those coalescing around US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who contends that China's pilfering of American technology and protection of its companies from US competition are fundamental to the country's economic strategy.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Trade truce reflects different ideas on how to deal with China'. Print Edition | Subscribe