There's a hard line in China who believe 'Trumps Trade War' is about keeping China down. Ever since his presidential campaign when he pledged he'd stand up to China, and recover the jobs it had "stolen" from the United States, the scene was set for the dispute we now see unfolding. The seeds of mistrust were sown.
Even today, with the trade talks continuing but hanging in the balance, Donald Trump has tweeted about being in no rush to make a deal, because "tariffs will bring far more wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind."
And it's this, the Twitter diplomacy, or lack thereof, which the Chinese are clearly struggling to deal with. The public broadsides, the unpredictable temperament, the mixed messages. It is the total opposite of how the Chinese like to operate. Beijing continued today to strike a far more conciliatory tone, calling for the United States to meet China half way. The Foreign Ministry repeated the mantra that it is in neither sides interest to continue with the tit-for-tat tariffs.
But this is not to say that it will be the Chinese who ultimately make the compromise that leads to a break though in these trade talks. It is however clear that they may have underestimated President Trumps resolve and the team in Washington will be frantically consulting with Beijing on how to approach Fridays talks.
In China President Xi has painted himself as the Master Strategist, any compromise to the United States made on his behalf could undermine his authority and his all encompassing control over this country. His government has threatened to retaliate against this latest hike in tariffs from the United States and that could involve further boycott of American goods in China, anything which will hit their economy hardest.
A deal, if there is one to be done, will require compromise from one side, or both, and for now, it looks like these two leaders, apparently the best of friends, but worst of enemies, don't look like backing down.