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CWA # 75, 13 January 2019

The World this Week
Kim-Xi Meet, US Shutdown & US-China Trade Talks

  GP Team

The World this Week witnessed three important developments. Kim’s meeting with China prior to the US-North Korea summit put in a question as to what role China is going to play in the summit talks? Secondly, a fresh round of trade talks has kick-started between US and China. Does it indicate a détente in the trade relation between the two or a pause before a new round of tariff war resumes? Lastly, as the US partial government shutdown continues less attention has been paid on how the people of US are changing their stance on the wall.  

Seetha Lakshmi Dinesh Iyer, Harini Madhusudan and Abhishrut Singh 

Research Associates/Interns
International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP)
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)

 

Kim-Xi meet: Why is the detour important? 

The North Koran dictator made his first China visit from 8-10 January in 2019 and his fourth in the past ten months. According to the Chinese media, Kim’s statement seems to comply with his earlier stance of denuclearization. He is keen for the second summit with the Trump administration which is considered to be sometime post the first quarter. Given this, the Korean leader has issued a strong message that he would only retain this decision only if the US ensures ease in sanctions and makes security guarantees. Popular media reports also suggest that the duo might have spoken about economic reforms for Pyongyang.

It has been a North Korean policy to try and project itself as an independent actor. Post-China visit it will be of North Korea’s utmost interests to push for a second summit with the USA.  

Pyongyang has been making efforts to keep its relations with Beijing going as strong as this could come as a backup and help in putting pressure on Trump to ease sanctions. Closer to home, the South Korean leader, Moon Jae-in, seems to give an affirmative push to reduce sanctions and restore inter-Korean relations by reviving the Seoul industrial complex shut in 2016 following Pyongyang’s rocket launch missile tests. China is already being targeted at the international level for supporting North Korea for everything bad. So, though, China would continue to remain a strong economic pillar for the Kim leadership, it might still retain its firm stance over sanction at the UN Security Council to do away with that image. As for Washington, if putting pressure through cooperation is what the White House is still looking at, then Beijing might have a strong card to play at the trade negotiations.

 

US-China trade talk: A thaw in tariff dispute?

In this week, junior officials from the US and China have had intense discussions in Beijing regarding the on-going tariff dispute. On 9 January, US made a statement saying, China has agreed to buy certain types of goods from the US. However, in response, China made no direct statement to validate or refute US claims hence there could be a possible revival of trade talks on agricultural goods. Since the end of January, both the countries have shown a positive response towards negotiations. The next round of negotiations is expected to happen on the 30-31 of January.

Xi and Trump announced a truce for the month of January during the G20 summit in Argentina. However, if we were to draw parallels with what is happening in terms of Huawei, one cannot be certain if these negotiations are going to play in favour of China. The renewal of trade between the two countries might be with respect to the lobbyists from the US agricultural sector and China may budge with technology and make promises regarding intellectual property transfers. This was never about the products of disputes as much as it was about both the US and China’s trade behaviour and that may not change unless something substantial trade relief is offered at the table. The January high-level negotiations will become crucial for the trade dispute, because after January, the possibility of the tariffs increasing, will worsen the markets. 


US Shutdown: A change in people sentiments?  

Even after the meeting on 11 January between the Democrats and the Republicans nothing fruitful has panned out of all the deliberation and discussion as the deadlock for the federal government and workers still continues. President Trump has asserted that the wall construction is set to continue whereas the Democrats remained strong on their demand, calling the plan “plain stupid and wastage of money.”  Meanwhile, the shutdown has heavily impacted the people.  Nine out of the fifteen federal departments including agriculture, transportation, interior and homeland security have been affected by the shutdown. Apart from that almost 800,000 federal workers have been rendered out of pay.  Major demands of the people are for food assistance program which has been affecting 38 million US people. Public parks and museums have not been opened for the public, costing a revenue loss of 3.6 billion as of 11th of January.

Post the federal deadlock Trump visited the Southern Borders, and protests broke out. Though the US President is overly proud and reverent of his venture, the major outbursts of protest around the country have shown that the citizens are scoffing at the idea of Trump building a wall. A nationwide survey has revealed that a majority of Americans do not want a wall; they rather want immigration reforms and better policies. The citizens feel immigration is important as the country needs the labour force that arrives by immigration. They believe it would be better to improve immigration laws and deter illegal and undocumented immigrants.

 

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