Stories by Bill Bishop of Sinocism

How China misread Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi next to each other.
President Trump and President Xi at a November 2017 state dinner in Beijing. Photo: Thomas Peter/Pool/Getty Images

The South China Morning Post examines Beijing's misreading of President Trump, where they look at "how Beijing got it wrong."

My thought bubble: I had many conversations with Chinese interlocutors who really did not understand how the attitude towards China in D.C. and the U.S. business community had hardened so much. An earlier realization may not have altered the outcome much given the structural problems in the relationship, but when the stakes are so high, ignorance and surprise can be very dangerous.

The big picture: China's reform and opening turns 40

Illustration of Mao and Xi photos merged in a collage together
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

2018 is the 40th anniversary of the launch of China's reform and opening policy. Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party are making a very big deal of the anniversary.

What we're hearing: I spoke with Julian Gewirtz, an expert in modern Chinese history and author of a book on China called "Unlikely Partners," on the current state of China's market and Xi's plan for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Between the lines: China and Trump are in a different place on the WTO

Trump, smiling on the cover a Chinese magazine
Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials that he wants to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported earlier today.

My thought bubble: China has benefited enormously from its accession to the WTO and it does not want global trading disrupted by anyone else. It also sees massive propaganda value in portraying itself as a responsible actor in contrast to the U.S. under President Trump, and it is finding many supporters among nations that in a different time would be on the U.S.' side.