back to article US and China wave white flags, hit pause button on trade war

Chinese officials have announced a preliminary agreement on phase one of negotiations with the United States - and of course US President Trump has leapt onto his favourite digital soap box to add his cents worth. Nothing has actually been signed but the text of the agreement has been drafted and agreed by both sides. Trump …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Though I have little regard for Trump, having read a number of commentaries on the Impeachment hearings, I think the Democrats are doing Trump a favour.

    They seem to be relying on the 'There's no smoke without fire' premise but there really isn't much smoke of consequence either.

    If China has caved this far, they are obviously still able to make a profit in their eyes at least so expect Trump to try squeezing a little more out of them in the New Year.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It appears that a lot of people are realizing the smoke is pretty much as fake as much of the other news.

      Pinocchio's noses are going to need a new Reg unit.

      One could long for a time when politics resorted to fewer outright lies - at least they used to try to hide it better. Now it seems to be a game (for money and power) to just see who can bamboozle the most people who don't make it their full time job to find out what the actual truths are. Which is all too many people - and why should I have to waste a significant portion of my life to do that, just to keep these clowns from messing up my world?

      And it's not just the visible politicians, who seem often to be a distraction from whoever is making money on violence.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      The Democrats have completely played into Trump's big orange hands, and made total fools of themselves. They've jumped up and down and yelled, then come up with really weak charges.

      You want to know how people like Trump get elected? Because the other party is, amazingly enough, even stupider. With the Democratic party infighting and general idiocy, I expect there will be no one to gather enough of the splintered votes to oppose him. :-(

      1. sad_loser

        I think you mean

        The Democrats have completely played into Trump's little orange hands

      2. jmch Silver badge

        "come up with really weak charges."

        The charges of inviting a foreign power to interfere in domestic elections, and of abuse of power (not submitting to lawful congressional requests) are literally what the founding fathers introduced the idea of impeachment for. If he were to be judged by real judges, even the supreme Court stuffed with his appointments would likely be unanimously condemning him. As it is, senate will acquit him because they don't care about having a dictator in the white house as long as he's *their* dictator.

        "the other party is, amazingly enough, even stupider."

        Sadly true. If the dems don't learn from the rout suffered by Labour and libdems last week, they could be routed themselves. They need someone to poke their nose out of new York and California and see how most of the country is actually doing

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Trump clearly engaged in bribery and extortion. He held $400 million US taxpayer funds hostage in order to get Ukraine to agree to ANNOUNCE (the announcement is what they wanted, they didn't care about action) an investigation into his most likely opponent in the 2020 election. They even specified that the announcement was to happen on CNN!

      Once he learned there was a whistleblower he tried to clean it up by making sure there was a record of him saying "no quid pro quo" as if a guy who speaks in third grade level English would ever use that phrase without his lawyers telling him that's what he should say to try to give something for his defenders to point to.

      If you don't impeach a president for trying to bribe a fellow world leader to gain an election advantage, you might as well dispense with the election entirely and allow make him president-for-life and have his son Don Jr. follow him after he dies like in the "democratic republic" of North Korea.

      1. jason 7

        The problem is...99.99999% of the US public doesn't really care.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Then 99.9999999% of the population is stupid and self defeating, or defecating, on themselves. I know, it's futile to call people stupid and it just reinforces their prejudices and idiocies...but stupid is as stupid does. If you vote Trump then you're either stupid or very rich...perhaps both. They seem to think it's a great joke against the establishment and they are triggering the sensitive liberal snowflakes, but they don't understand what satire and sarcasm is and it's akin to poking themselves in the eye with a blunt pencil. As I said, Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Oh, and Boris Johnson is a clever Trump, if one can countenance such a thing. In polling booths up and down the length of Britain I picture people taking their little pencils and instead of writing a little X in one of the boxes, jabbing it in their own eye. Corbyn supporters write an orderly, well mannered, X in the little box provided for such things - while the Boris bonkers and bonkettes stick the pencils in their own orbs. The tears they cry in the coming years will be bitter and acrid, but ever so sweet to me as I laugh and lap them up.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              If you look at the results in detail, the Tory vote didn;t actually rise as much as you might think. More of their success was down to the Labour vote falling quite drastically in many areas. I suspect people were more scared of Corbyn and his massive spending/nationalisation policies than Boris and voted "anything but Labour", quite a few going Tory because there's been enough shit over the last few years of bare majority/minority governments.

              Personally , I vote "anything but Labour" because this has been a safe Labour seat almost since Labour was formed and I'd like to see them work and fight for it instead taking it as read. They lost 20 points this year, but are still "safe".

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > Corbyn supporters write an orderly, well mannered, X in the little box provided for such things

              Jees, so patronising. Look I was around when they stuck Foot up as the Labour candidate and Corbyn is just Michael Foot with a beard, neither of them are PM material and neither was their throwback to 1980s Militant manifesto either. All Labour had to do was have some moderate policies and a moderate candidate and they'd be sat in No 10 but as to thinking rabid communism and emptying the Treasury is a vote winner they seriously need to question their reasoning and whether they enjoy just being the opposition party. Do you realise come the next election the only labour leader to have won a general election in 50 years will be Tony Blair ?

              McDonnell as chancellor ? You're having a giraffe.

              Labour only have themselves to blame, a self inflicted gunshot to the foot, so to speak. They need to move to the centre ground.

              They elected the wrong Milliband as well, Ed should have stayed at home with Gromit eating cheese and left the job to David.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                "Corbyn is just Michael Foot with a beard,"

                To be fair, Corbyn has taken the crown from Foot for the worlds longest suicide note.

                1. Caltharian

                  The major problem with Corbyn is that he has morals and a conscience neither of which are helpful traits in a politician

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                So prepare to be patronized some more...The actual leader, essentially, has no real effect on what the party behind them does. They are lightning rods to take the ire of the country as they realize they've been duped yet again. At least Corbyn was benign, as was the Labour party. Boris is about as malign as you can get, not to mention the spectre of Dominic Cummings lurking behind him in the shadows. Working class voter voting're stupid...You'll see in the coming years. Have fun. You might as well, there's nothing else to look forward to.

          2. jason 7

            Yep it's stupid but the impeachment won't amount to anything.

            Just paperwork and money for lawyers.

            The thing is Democrats don't care if they win or lose. The just want the money to keep rolling in.

            They are super wealthy. It's just a hobby. This just gets them on TV.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > 99.9999999% of the population is stupid and self defeating

            Out of a population of 7 billion, that makes 7 people who are not stupid. I think we should meet them.

            1. veti Silver badge

              I would imagine they take great care to avoid being noticed.

            2. ridley

              Do stupid people know they are stupid?

              1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

                RE: Ridley

                On the contrary! Some of the stupidest people i've ever met think they're actually the intelligent ones.

                Take flat earthers for example: Not only are they incredibly retarded, but they actually believe they understand science, gravity, and astrophysics better than experts!

          4. veti Silver badge

            Neither side is "stupid". You just don't know what they're thinking, that's all. That's not the same thing.

          5. Kibble 2

            "If you vote Trump then you're either stupid or very rich...perhaps both"

            Perhaps in your wisdom you'll suggest whom one should vote for, AC.

          6. Tigra 07 Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            RE: AC

            "If you vote Trump then you're either stupid or very rich...perhaps both""

            Like it or not, Hillary was a terrible candidate. She's a career politician with a toxic legacy. She's broken some serious laws, for example - she's violated the official secrets act with her private email server.

            If your options are: A: Hillary Clinton, or B: Anyone else in the world. Then B: Anyone else in the world stands a very good chance of winning.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: RE: AC

              If "anyone else in the world" has done worse things than Hilary then yes, not to mention all the other many politicians who have done the same thing you chastise her for, you're fucking stupid to vote for anyone else in the world. Is there any other conclusion I can draw?

          7. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

            "Stupid!" So AC, they should have voted for Hillary? Why? Because she wasn't rich enough? Because the US hadn't invaded and destroyed enough countries yet? Because her Wall Street buddies weren't rich enough yet? Because the economy and employment, booming under Trump, needed more crazy banking deregulation? Please do tell what Hillary would have done for the country.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              The positives you mention where happening before Trump took office. All the other shit that's happened since he took office (go read a newspaper) probably wouldn't have happened. The US would have a leader that the rest of the world didn't think was a joke, and one who didn't think Twitter was a policy tool...Jeez....

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          The problem is that in recent decades being arrogant, inflexible, self-serving and aggressive has become "cool". Not only in the USA, thats just where the tendency is most visible due to the stupid 2-party system which reinforces and exacerbates any "if it's not to our profit, it's bad" attitudes.

          Anyway, being a self-serving authoritarian jerk has apparently come to mean you're "strong", and thus made for ruling (shepherding) the "sheeple".

          I guess for some people it's the lost father figure, while it allows others to cut down on their dominatrix expenses, but whatever it is, most politicians worldwide are modeling themselves towards that new hip standard. Be afraid ye indolent masses, history repeats itself and has already shown us the evolutionary targets of this otherwise just annoying tendency (Hint: They were christened Benito and Adolf).

          1. Kibble 2

            I agree with the spirit of your point, and a thumbs up for that. However, there are many more both in the past and in the present.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              > there are many more both in the past and in the present

              Many more what? If you mean self-serving jerks I agree, but there was a time they were trying to hide it (with more or less success indeed). Utter shamelessness is the novelty here. The "whatcha gonna do, sucker?" attitude.

        3. veti Silver badge

          Not true at all. Approximately 50% of American voters think Trump should be impeached and removed.

          Unfortunately it takes more like 70% to get action.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Trump clearly engaged in bribery and extortion.

        Repeating a lie won't make it true.

        Why are the democrats not charging him with bribery and extortion in their articles of impeachment? Why have they resorted to the nebulous "abuse of power" and contempt of congress, which isn't even a real thing!

        1. Kibble 2

          The jury is out on the abuse of power charge, but the US Congress is certainly contemptible. As stated above and in many other posts, the 2 party system is partially at fault, I believe: it tends to cause both parties to deadlock a lot. Perhaps Congressional term limits would be a way out of the gridlock, I dunno, but it certainly couldn't hurt.

          The talking heads at Fox News might help enlighten you as to how stupid the Democrats are with this entire impeachment mess. I just want to ask them collectively why they keep wanting to impeach a Republican president. I believe they have tried on about 5 of the past 6. (Nixon quit before they could catch him.)

          1. veti Silver badge

            The "Democrats have tried to impeach 5 of the last 6 Republican presidents" line is a gross distortion. To make it true, you have to count every call made in every speech by every democrat, not just in Congress but all over the country. The historical reality is that Democrats have launched only one other impeachment hearing in the past century.

            I'd like to see a similar accounting made for the other team.

      3. headrush

        Nixon clearly engaged in bribery and extortion when he "persuaded" the Iranians not to release the American hostages until after his election. Obama clearly engaged in interference with other countries electoral processes when the us financially supported the fascisist Ukrainian opposition to take power against the more moderate elected assembly. History is littered with examples of us interference both financial and military.

        It only appears to matter now because you don't like this president. Why should it matter to those who support him?

        In the words of Joker, you get what you fucking deserve. (as do we all)

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          "Nixon clearly engaged in bribery and extortion when he "persuaded" the Iranians not to release the American hostages until after his election."

          Yer mixing up yer Reagans with yer Nixons.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Interference, Bribery and Extortion are totally OK when an American government applies them to the sub-human lumps of wasted protein that are Un-American people.

          Should those protein lumps return the favour or are just imagined to be returning it in kind by, say, a failed presidential candidate, the American squealing is quite a spectacle to see.

          Anyways, It is Interference, Bribery and Extortion for *Personal Gains* that is Not OK.

      4. Danny 2 Silver badge

        "make him president-for-life and have his son Don Jr. follow him"

        Pulease. President Ivanka. Like DJT, I'd do her.

      5. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        If you don't impeach a president for lying under oath to Congress about sex with an intern, you might as well dispense with the election entirely and make him president-for-life and have wife Hillary follow him after she kills him like in the "democratic republic" of North Korea." There, a potential fix for ya.

        Way to ignore Joe Biden proudly boasting on TV that he threatened to withhold $1 Beeelleeeon in aid unless the Ukrainians fire a federal prosecutor. They fired hm, and the aid was released. Sound of crickets on that one, though. You do know that ALL US lawmakers are corrupt, right? How else can you spend most of your adult life in Congress and be worth many 10s of millions of dollars at the end of it?

        This impeachment show is like watching two drug gangs slug it out. Anyone who favours one of these clowns over the other must be a street level dealer or a crack addict. In the meantime, the country and the world get caught in the crossfire.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Impeachment will fail, the Republicans control the Senate.

      Move along, nothing to see here but politicking coming up to election year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        100% chance he will be impeached. 0% chance he will be removed from office. That doesn't really have anything to do with republicans controlling the senate, because a 2/3 majority is needed for removal. Even if democrats had a filibuster proof 60 seat majority they'd still need 7 republicans to vote for removal. In today's hyper-partisan atmosphere they will probably only get 2-4 republicans.

        But is knowing that he won't get removed grounds for saying "oh well, let's not even bother to impeach then?" It will matter for the future, even if it doesn't matter today. Trump won't last forever, no matter what he'll be gone in either a year or five years. Given how many Big Macs he eats, probably dead in ten.

        Eventually the staffers he's blocked from testifying like Mulvaney will have the statute of limitations for whatever crimes they committed as part of it run out, and they'll look to cash in by writing tell all books. A decade from now, it will become known and accepted that Trump was the most criminal president in the past century, if not the history of the US. That's how history will remember him, and the senators who vote to acquit him will have that sad black mark near the top of their biographies. That's how history will remember them. I guess they are OK with it, if it means avoiding upsetting his followers and getting voted out in the next election.

        This is another in the long list of reasons why we need term limits. If you could only hold office in the senate for two terms at most, half the republicans would be on their second term and the other half would only have one term and have to life a life outside of politics after that term. I think they would view their responsibility as "jurors" in the senate trial next year quite differently than the crop of lifers and wanna-be lifers we have today.

        The same applies for democrats of course. If there are any who truly believe what Trump did was OK and they think presidents should be able to do it, then they should be able to vote against impeachment without worrying about backlash from democrat voters. Term limits would guarantee they are all short timers rather than making serving in congress a lifetime gig.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          In today's hyper-partisan atmosphere they will probably only get 2-4 republicans.

          In the Senate, voting to remove? That seems unlikely. Every prediction I've seen is that no Republican senators will vote for removal, and some Democrats may vote against. The two current Independent senators caucus with Democrats. I certainly don't see Sanders voting against removal. King is harder to call; he's a moderate, in terms of the current Senate's makeup, and might actually weigh the charges and evidence rather than simply voting party line.

          Personally, I think the Democrat strategy is to lose the vote in the Senate anyway. That will help motivate their base. If Trump were removed from office, it would make him a martyr to his base, and position Pence to run in his stead next year and gain from the "widow effect".

          Frankly, I think it's the Republican Party (in the most brutal and callous realpolitik calculation) which is being done a disservice by their senators here. They could really cement their control of the electorate by having them vote for removal. But that would cost the sitting Republican senators personally, and few to none of them are willing to lose their position for their party.

    5. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      It is really unclear if China *has* caved.The text of the deal has not been published, and China is being oddly reticent about what they've actually agreed to. For example, if someone agrees to buy up to $50Bn of soy beans, that doesn't actually mean they'll buy that much. And China isn't going to "massively" increase their farm imports (from the 2016 levels) because, well, what would they do with the excess?

      So, to play Devils Advocate, it's possible that the Chinese have figured out that the best way to handle this situation is to game the system: give Trump talking points, success stories, etc by concentrating on the optics, not the fundamentals. So maybe they place a significant order for soy beans, but actually only modestly in-line with the 2016 level... but WAY up from the 2018 one. Trump's happy, China's not lost anything, and they wait out the 1 or at most 5 years until he's gone....

      1. Mephistro Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        "...give Trump talking points, success stories, etc by concentrating on the optics, not the fundamentals."

        A trick they probably copied from North Korea and the "nuclear treaty" -for lack of a better name- they signed with Trump last year. ;^)

      2. skeptical i
        Paris Hilton

        "before" and "after" scorecard?

        Agree with your points, Malcolm, thank you. Apologies for not having been paying close attention to the trade/ tariff war, but do we have any ideas how the game table has changed, say, from before either Trump's or China's first "move" and now? My /guess/ is that while there have been notable changes here and there it "balances out" overall, but again, my attention has been elsewhere.

        1. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

          Re: "before" and "after" scorecard?

          It's hard to describe in simple detail what the USA wants, perhaps if you think of it as a 'level playing field' in Asia.

          1) Western companies cannot set up a Chinese company without a Chinese "business partner" (note: probably why there are so many Chinese billionaires). So far, Tesla is the only exemption.

          2) Many Western tech companies are explicitly banned in China. Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Amazon prime, YouTube, twitter, Netflix, Microsoft search, Google maps etc. Are all blocked/banned at network level. Quid Pro quo, I assume that's why Huawei was recently "banned" from EU/USA for flippant reasons.

          I think China just agreed to buy some stuff, probably without huge concessions in this deal.

  2. DanceMan

    Reality is optional

    A significant proportion of the population support a politician who tells them what they already believe, whether it's true or not. And with Faux News reinforcing those beliefs, you can re-elect a Trump, no matter what's really true.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reality is optional

      In case you hadn't noticed, Trump has become too much even for Fox News, and he has been lashing out at their coverage.

      The fact that Murdoch controls Fox News and has significant interests in China is a complete coincidence.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Reality is optional

        I worked for NewsGem in the early '90s, not for long. I handed in my notice during a recession two weeks in, and they made me work for another four weeks. What sort of a corporation makes a disgruntled employee work? So I turned up and brought everyone else down.

        I later worked for a company that contracted at Sky TV. To be honest they were actually far better for female employee promotions than most local companies. Horrible place though. One detail in passing, when anyone in their call centre wanted to take a pish then they had to get a colleague to take their hand, dance to the toilet whilst singing a team song. It was difficult to look people in the eye. It was a prototype for the Uigher reeductaion camps.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they would nuke each other if they could get away with it, cos they both know the only thing stopping them from total domination is each other.. america left it too late and now china could fight back, or invent some ai-powered smart nerve-agent-needle-tipped drone and build billions of them with little silicon crystal wings and let them loose and they'd flap and fly everywhere and eventually kill everyone the chinese didn't like.. like literally decades later people would be feeling pricks and suddenly GONE if their facial features weren't chinese YUK they are EVIL they just have to have very very low bandwidth mesh networking too, millions of them could forward and coordinate strategies just sign it all with a key held back by president Xi himself.. GOD it's an awful future don't let the chinese know they can do things like this soon

  4. Palpy

    China hasn't "caved".

    Trump put some of his tariff threats on hold effective immediately; China made what appear to be quite vague promises about "structural reform" and future agricultural purchases.

    Unlike the hold on US tariffs, which is now, the Chinese actions are pegged to future actions... ie, promises which are amenable to strategic modifications, reinterpretation, and reconsideration. China gamed Trump on trade in exactly the way Kim Jong-un gamed him on disarmament -- make a general agreement in order to obtain specific actions in return, and then play the generalities as the game goes on. Well, China is doing it more effectively than Kim Jong-un, I think.

    Impeachment of Trump -- the general analogue of an indictment -- will happen. It looks like a few House Democrats in red districts will defect, but party politics will pressure enough to remain to win a vote in the House. Trump's removal from office will not occur. No Republican in the Senate will vote for removal.

    I received a reply from Oregon's only Republican congressman, and in it Greg Walden defended his earlier vote against pursuing an impeachment investigation. His defense was simply GOP / Fox News talking points: The impeachment is partisan politics, Republicans have been shut out of the impeachment debate, removal of a president thwarts the vote of the people, the actions of the President are not legally sufficient for impeachment.

    It's boilerplate bullsh*t. Republicans have no problem with partisan politics (calling opponents "human scum" and listing off the failures of a Democrat's son in battling addiction, for instance), but are eager to scream in pain when Democrats play even a little hardball. I watched Devin Nunes, Elise Stefanik, and Doug Collins haranguing the floor throughout the impeachment proceedings, and they were not shut out. They had to follow House policy on time limits, just like every other House member -- but that does not constitute "silencing" them. They're playing the sad snowflake card, quite cynically, I would say. On "thwarting the vote of the people", well! In the first place, the impeachment is not about rewriting history. It is about present and ongoing corruption in the office of the President. But more people voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Americans voted Clinton to be President. The Electoral College thwarted the will of the popular vote. If Republicans were honest and honorable, they would agree that removing Trump would validate the popular vote of the American public.

    And finally: Fergodsake, Trump used congressionally appropriated military aid as a threat to get a foreign country to smear one of his political opponents. US election law forbids that. You cannot, legally, invoke the aid of foreign powers to influence a US election. That impeachable. Some 200 lawyers and legal scholars have said so.

    But it doesn't matter. Trump will be impeached but not removed from office. It will be spun as a "win" for Trump and the Republicans, though it will mean nothing about the seriousness of the charges; all it really means is that there are more Republican senators right now than Democratic ones.

    *shrug* The corruption is real; the political acquittal is theater.

    1. DugEBug

      Re: China hasn't "caved".

      Thank you for your very eloquent use of CNN's talking points.

  5. Mystic Megabyte

    Be afraid

    It's fairly obvious that Putin got Trump elected, a decision that he may come to regret.

    I would not like to be a member of the USA's armed services at this time. To deflect attention from his crimes Trump will start a war, most likely with North Korea.

    Many thousands of people will die, this will not end well.

    I am not a political animal but I wake up every day hoping to hear that Trump has been struck by lightning while playing golf. How ironic would that be?

    Now my only pleasure in life will be a chlorinated chicken sandwich :( /s

  6. Nifty Silver badge

    It's been a phoney war.

  7. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

    "China made what appear to be quite vague promises about "structural reform" and future agricultural purchases."

    So you've read the text of the new deal then?

    "calling opponents "human scum" and listing off the failures of a Democrat's son in battling addiction, for instance"

    Addiction to Ukranian money at the rate of $US50,000 per month?

    "but that does not constitute "silencing" them."

    How about not allowing Republican members of the committee to subpoena witnesses or evidence? Not allowing them to depose witnesses?

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