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On September 13, the Trump administration reached out to China with an offer for more trade talks.

The WSJ reported the "Trump administration said it sensed a new vulnerability—and possibly more flexibility—among Chinese officials pressured by U.S. tariffs imposed earlier this year and threats for more."

I inaccurately commented Trump Gets Cold Feet on More Tariffs: US Proposes More Talks With China.

My view was similar to the WSJ take. Trump lashed out at the WSJ.

On September 14, I noted Trump Tells Aides to Proceed With $200 Billion in Tariffs on China.

The consensus opinion now is that more tariffs will be announced Monday or Tuesday.

Who's Bluffing Whom?

Understandably, Beijing is balking at the Trump administration’s pressure tactics as China Weighs Skipping Trade Talks After U.S. Tariff Threat.

> Faced with fresh threats of tariffs from Washington, China is considering declining the Trump administration’s offer of trade talks later this month, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions.

> The White House plans to announce within the next few days tariffs on as much as $200 billion in Chinese goods, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, in a move designed to further squeeze Beijing before another round of negotiations proposed by the U.S. The pressure tactics, however, aren’t sitting well with Beijing, which has repeatedly said it wouldn’t negotiate under threat.

> “China never said it doesn’t want to negotiate with the U.S.,” Yang Weimin, a former senior economic adviser to President Xi Jinping, said Sunday. “But the U.S. side has to show sincerity” toward resolving the trade dispute. Added a current senior official who advises the leadership on foreign-policy matters: “China is not going to negotiate with a gun pointed to its head.”

Counter-Threat

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> In response to the pressure from Washington, some Chinese officials involved in advising the leadership are proposing to step up the trade fight a notch by restricting China’s sales of materials, equipment and other parts key to U.S. manufacturers’ supply chain. Such restrictions could even apply to Apple Inc.’s iPhones, which are assembled in the mainland, officials said, without elaborating. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

> China can adopt “export restraints” as a way to hit back at the U.S. in addition to retaliatory tariffs, former Finance Minister Lou Jiwei told a gathering of Chinese and American academics and business executives Sunday.

Pressure Tactics

Trump seems to think that countries will respond to pressure. Of course, that assumes Trump is thinking at all, which is clearly debatable.

Whether or not Trump is thinking, history shows that countries do not respond to pressure.

Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Turkey are proof enough.

Going back further, one can look at our counterproductive policies on Cuba (still ongoing) and let's not forget the war in Vietnam which the US lost.

A friend comments "You can also add Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) which faced brutal sanctions in the 1960's as did South Africa. Both attempts failed."

Tolerance For Pain

Yes, Trump can inflict more damage on China than the other way around. But unlike China, the US has something called elections.

If voters are dissatisfied with results, US leaders do not stay in power. Similar conditions do not apply in Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, or Turkey where the system is rigged even if people do get to vote.

Losing vs. Losing More

One does not win by losing less than the other guy. Nor does one win with tactics that may cost heavily in midterm elections.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock