- The Chinese trade delegation spent the entire afternoon discussing how to change the itinerary to match Trump's signature date.
- Trump had decided to postpone the date of signing the agreement in order to incorporate the first-phase trade agreement into his own achievements.
- In order to reach a consensus on the signing ceremony, it took a long time for China and the United States to confirm the details.
The South China Morning Post reported that Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He planned to lead a trade delegation to the United States in early January to sign the first-phase trade agreement. However, US President Donald Trump unilaterally decided to announce on New Year’s Eve that he will sign a trade agreement with Chinese representatives on January 15. It is understood that the Chinese government did not expect the United States to unilaterally announce the date of the signature.
According to reports, the Chinese trade delegation spent the entire afternoon discussing how to change the itinerary to match Trump’s signature date. In order to reach a consensus on the signing ceremony, it took a long time for China and the United States to confirm the details. This process shows that there are still many differences between Beijing and Washington.
Trump hopes to credit himself for signing the first phase of the trade agreement and shape this achievement into a big victory for the United States in the trade war. However, Beijing seems reluctant to make a public statement about the trade agreement. The SCMP quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying that Trump had decided to postpone the date of signing the agreement in order to incorporate the first-phase trade agreement into his own achievements.
Neither China nor the U.S. has confirmed the details of Liu’s visit to the United States. Earlier, US trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer said on December 13 that China and the United States would sign the agreement in the first week of January 2020. Although China has never confirmed when the two sides will sign the agreement, a Chinese Vice Minister of Finance said that day that the signing of the first phase of the agreement was a primary goal for China.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump said that China and the United States will hold an agreement signing ceremony and guarantee that the process of signing the agreement will be very short. However, the leaders of China and the United States did not seem to meet at the signing ceremony of the agreement. Chinese state media have even hinted that Chinese leader Xi Jinping may not attend the agreement signing ceremony in person. The Global Times quoted Gao Lingyun, a researcher at the Institute of Economics and Politics, last week, stating that China values the content of the agreement, not the specifications of the agreement.
Trump also tweeted on New Year’s Eve that once China and the United States have signed the first phase of the trade agreement, he will choose to visit China separately. However, as of now, Beijing has not confirmed whether Trump will visit China in the near future. In addition, regarding the details of the negotiation of the second-stage agreement, Chinese Vice Minister of Finance Liao Xiaojun said that China and the United States will discuss the second-stage agreement after the first-stage agreement is fully implemented.