An interview with Long Yongtu, China’s former vice-minister of international trade and the point man in the country’s nine-year negotiations to join the World Trade Organization in 2001 was published in the South China Morning Post last week
Long, who turned 76 in March, has retired from active ministerial posts and doesn’t speak for China’s government in matters concerning the domestic affairs of other countries. But the comment from someone considered the elder statesman of China’s trade diplomacy does offer a hint of the thinking in Beijing’s policymaking circle, as officials grapple with how best to handle the bruising trade war between the two largest economies on Earth.Despite his fickleness, Trump is a transparent and realistic negotiator who is concerned only with material interests such as forcing China to import more American products, on which Beijing is able to compromise, Long said.Unlike his predecessors, Trump does not pick fights with China on hot-button geopolitical issues such as Taiwan or Hong Kong, where Beijing has little room to manoeuvre, said Long, who now heads the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing-based think tank.“Trump talks about material interests, not politics,” Long said in an interview with South China Morning Post in Shenzhen. “Such an opponent is the best choice for negotiations.”
Luong’s comments are no compliment of Trump from my point of view. They show Trump to be a man with a world view no more complex than a real estate salesman.
But what are the contending forces in the world today and how should we view them?
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