And now, in support of Mr Solomon’s view, about which I commented just a few minutes ago, Fraser Howie, an author and businessman, has written, in the South China Morning Post that “To some … [which likely include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] … Beijing’s rapid fiscal and monetary moves may seem like strength: it is proactive, decisive and has the financial capacity to act to avert the worst. But in reality, it is a sign of utter confusion. Trump has clearly thrown China off kilter.“
Mr Howie provides considerable evidence to demonstrate that “the calculus has changed again. Trump went lightly on China in his first year, and was best friends with President Xi Jinping. This gave the Chinese a false sense of security when dealing with the Donald. A focus on North Korea, not trade, didn’t prepare Beijing for what came next … [but now the] … Chinese leadership find themselves in a bind. Xi and the official media have been remarkably restrained in their pushback against the trade war. Touchy-feely statements on fighting protectionism sounds hollow on the lips of Chinese leaders. They are able to try and boost the economy domestically, but Trump is too unpredictable to formulate a long-term policy. The Chinese aren’t even clear what Trump wants, so how can they respond?“
If Mr Howie’s assessment is correct then it supports Mr Solomon’s suggestion that there is a grand (trade) strategy in Washington, even if, as Mr Howie says, President Trump’s “basic metric to measure the relationship, the deficit, is a poor one.” But, perhaps, Robert Lighthizer, who is not an idiot, even when he has to make idiotic arguments, is in charge of President Trump’s trade strategy.
I cannot challenge Mr Howie’s assessments; he is much better informed than I am. But, I still suspect that Xi Jinping and China have their own grand strategy which, as others have said, has a broader base and, very likely, better metrics.