May 10, 2019

U.S.-China trade war could be signaling a deeper problem

Photo: Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images

The breakdown in trade negotiations came during a week that saw the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement and the 20th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of the PRC embassy in Belgrade, an incident that set off a wave of protests in China against the U.S.

Why it matters: The trade war is just one component of a rapidly deteriorating U.S.-China relationship. Even if there is a deal, the deeper tensions will only intensify, and the risk of a surge in anti-American sentiment is real.

The impact: One result of the trade war, even if there is a deal in the near-term, will likely be the attempts to increasingly harness nationalism and anti-American sentiment. There have been some glimmers in the last few days.

  • "Taoran Notes 陶然笔记," a WeChat account connected to the official Economic Daily newspaper, wrote Wednesday that China is willing to talk if the U.S. is, and is also willing to fight a trade war if that is what the U.S. wants.
  • That post went on to say that in 2 of the nearly 3 years of the "War to Resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea" (China's name for the Korean War) the U.S. and Chinese sides were both talking and fighting.

Several well-known hawks have been quite vocal in their desire to see the trade talks fail (Financial Times):

"I very much hope that the negotiations will break down," said Dai Xu, a professor at China's National Defence University and a retired air force colonel."
"Once the negotiations are over, the United States will be finished, for sure ... we kick out all the American companies and bring all of ours back.... No way will Trump be re-elected."
"The US openly sees us as their biggest enemy," said Tan Yungang, an air force colonel. "The United States will block China more than they did the former Soviet Union."
"Chinese people need to have backbone," said Prof Dai. "I am very opposed to one of our traditional concepts, which is that no matter how much others have hurt China, we are educated to forget ... what's the meaning of remembering the history without the hatred? It's meaningless."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 1,363,365— Total deaths: 76,420 — Total recoveries: 292,425Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 368,533 — Total deaths: 11,008 — Total recoveries: 19,972Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January about the massive potential risks from the coronavirus.
  4. Public health update: Funeral homes are struggling to handle the pandemic.
  5. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks the governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting until June.
  6. Tech update: YouTube has removed thousands of COVID-19 videos for violating policies related to spreading medical misinformation.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Stephanie Grisham out as White House press secretary

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is departing her post to return to the East Wing as First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff, the White House announced Tuesday. The news was first reported by CNN.

Why it matters: Grisham will leave after nine months without ever having held a formal press briefing. Her departure follows the arrival of new White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has a chance to overhaul a communications shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

WeWork board sues SoftBank

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

SoftBank was sued Tuesday morning by a special committee of WeWork's board of directors for alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty related to SoftBank's decision to cancel a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.

Why it matters: SoftBank is viewed by many in the private markets as an unfaithful partner. If this reaches trial, that reputation could either become widely cemented or reversed.