Wednesday, 24 Jul 2019
OPINION

This time like last time

Updated at Sunday, 30 Jun 2019, 13:19
The Hanoitimes - Except some small details, this agreement looks similar to what the two men had reached last year in Argentina, also on the sidelines of the then G20 annual summit.
The much anticipated encounter between US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping took place on the second day of this year's G20 summit in Osaka, Japan and lasted about 80 minutes. The leaders of the world’s two largest economies appeared satisfied and hailed the results of their meeting.
 
President Donald Trump, left, poses for a photo with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP
President Donald Trump, left, poses for a photo with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP
According to their announcements, the US and China would quickly restart bilateral trade talks and until these talks end, regardless of whether the final agreement is reached or not,  both sides restrain from imposing new trade tariffs on each other’s exports. Mr. Trump went so far as to say that China's high tech giant Huawei could buy American items again, in other words, the US stopped crusading against Chinese high tech companies like Huawei. This agreement would mean that the US - China conflict is on the way to be de-escalated and awaiting final solutions.

So far so good because it is very encouraging news. This clash between the US and China caused immense harm not only to the US and China but also to the world's economy and trade, lowering the growth and leading to the loss of billions of US dollars all over the world.

So far so good because this agreement would effectively prevent the outbreak of trade wars between the US and China which would negatively affect the whole world. Everyone can now be at ease, at least for the time being.

But this agreement is not good enough for everyone to be relaxed without any worrying. Except some small details, this agreement looks similar to what the two men had reached last year in Argentina, also on the sidelines of the then G20 annual summit. It is more a kind of truce than new ideas for settling all US-China disputes. It is more about deliberately postponing solving problems than really concentrating on solving them. They agreed on availability of more time for bilateral trade negotiations in full awareness that they might never successfully conclude this negotiation process. They agreed only on restarting bilateral trade talks and not on common strategies to successfully settle their disputes through talks. One could not escape the impression that in Osaka, the two men were more interested in reaching this truce than in finding new ways to handle their conflict after having failed to do it since their encounter in Argentina last year.

That is why it is now very possible that their next agreement would be the same like their Osaka agreement. After "this time like last time" then "next time like this time".
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau
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