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Trump calls China trade deal 'big, beautiful monster'

Trump talking image
Chinese media writes 'the trade war is not over yet' as it defends phase one deal.

By Brendan Murray

A “big, beautiful monster” was the phrase President Donald Trump used before cheering supporters to describe his phase-one trade deal with China. His advisers are calling it a “win” for America.

But Chinese government media aren’t ceding a loss as the delegation from Beijing prepares to sign the document just before lunch at the White House today. One state media outlet defended China’s purchase commitments in the deal as necessary rather than a capitulation. Another compared the moment to “just the first round of a game,” cautioning against applauding the end of tensions.

Global Times, a state-owned newspaper known for its nationalistic stance, published two commentaries on Wednesday.

In one article entitled “A Key Agreement Amid Worsening China-U.S. Relations,” it wrote, “we have a few words to say to the Chinese public — don’t feel ‘we lost’ because China will increase purchase of American goods in the phase-one deal.”

“There was some imbalance in China-U.S. trade, and the purchase of U.S. products not only meets the needs of Chinese people’s consumption upgrade, but also strengthens bilateral ties and bolsters the relationship up in the right direction in the 21st century.”

In a separate editorial in English, it wrote, “the two countries are trying to get their trade relations back on track after a long detour. This will be a challenging task because the factors that triggered the trade war have not disappeared. So far, the losses caused by the trade war to both countries have been limited.”

Taoran Notes, a blog affiliated with state-run Economic Daily, published an article earlier this week calling for “a calm mind” and saying “the trade war is not over yet.” Taoran added that “there are a lot of uncertainties in future.”

Charting the Trade War

Britain’s exit from the European Union doesn’t just end its relationship with the bloc, but also with countries with which the EU has trade agreements. The U.K. government has already rolled over 20 deals, and is in negotiations for another 19, though several are looking unlikely to be finished by exit day.

Today’s Must Reads

Signing party | Trump is poised to sign a deal with China that for the first time would punish Beijing if it fails to deliver on pledges related to its currency, intellectual property and trade balance.

Under pressure | China came under greater international pressure to reduce industrial subsidies after the U.S., Europe and Japan agreed to push for stronger World Trade Organization rules.

In recovery | Germany’s economy made rebounded a bit in the fourth quarter, ending a year in which manufacturing took a battering and the country flirted with a recession.

Foot fowl | A container with about 24 tons of American chicken feet cleared Chinese customs Tuesday, potentially heralding the start of a new trading era between the two countries.

New NAFTA vote | The Senate will pass the U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada this week before Trump’s impeachment trial begins, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Economic Analysis

Hill of beans | Ramping up agricultural exports to China to $50 billion is unlikely to have a big impact on U.S. economic growth this year, even though it could be beneficial to the farming sector.

China currency | The yuan’s recent gains have been propelled by forces that should have some staying power.

Coming Up

  • Jan. 17: Singapore exports, Italy trade balance
  • Jan. 20: Taiwan export orders
  • Jan. 21: South Korea 20-day exports
  • Jan. 23: Japan exports
  • Jan. 21-24: Business and government leaders meet at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Stay on top of all of the action via Bloomberg’s Davos Diary newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
--With assistance from Miao Han and Olivia Konotey-Ahulu.
To contact the author of this story:
Brendan Murray in London at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Zoe Schneeweiss at [email protected]
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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