Trump’s headaches: domestic politics and China-U.S. trade talks
Updated 11:06, 13-Jan-2019
CGTN's Dialogue
‍The year 2019 appears to offer U.S. President Donald Trump a bumpy ride. Special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian interference in the presidential election. The stock market, Trump's barometer for his own success, is suffering its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis. A quarter of the U.S. government remains closed. So how is Trump doing so far with all the headaches?
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a cabinet meeting in the White House, January 2, 2019. /VCG Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a cabinet meeting in the White House, January 2, 2019. /VCG Photo

Dr. Zhao Hai from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences believes Mueller's investigation is the top threat to Trump's presidency. But the Democratic Party is also at a weird place. Nancy Pelosi has to wait for the final result of the investigation and be careful with the impeachment decision which can impact the presidential election in 2020 in either way.
Timothy Stratford, Managing Partner of Covington and Burling LLP Beijing, pointed out that Republicans have a very mixed view of President Trump. Some support him for achieving agenda items while others object to his approach and some of his character. 
Among Trump's domestic chaos, China-U.S. trade talks were extended into an unexpected third day and eventually ended on Wednesday.
According to the latest statement by China's Ministry of Commerce, both sides had "extensive, in-depth, and detailed communication" on trade and structural issues, adding that they agreed to maintain close contact.
Stratford believes that both presidents and negotiators from both sides do want to reach an agreement, which can be a pathway to further negotiations.
Dr. Zhao shares the same optimistic view. He thinks the deal will probably start from the easy part, which is agriculture and energy, and move to trickier areas such as technology and IPR protection. 
“Even though maybe there won't be a comprehensive deal by March 1st, but as long as we can continue the negotiation and the two sides are both satisfied, there will be good signs,” said Dr. Zhao.
Brian Becker, a political analyst and the Host of Loud & Clear on Radio Sputnik, also thinks Trump wants a deal since his hands are weaker now due to volatility in the stock market and the danger of a looming recession.
However, Becker also pointed out that there are quite a few important figures inside the Trump administration are hardline anti-China hawks, adding uncertainty to the outcome.
“I think the cornerstone is politics, and the cornerstone is what's the bottom line for the Trump administration. Maybe the Trump administration doesn't fully yet know what its bottom line is because of this tug of war, ” concluded Becker.
In terms of the relationship between domestic politics and China-U.S. ties, Stratford thinks they have mutual effects. The bilateral relationship will be impacted by domestic politics. Meanwhile, it in itself has so much momentum that can have a strong impact on both countries.
“I'm optimistic that over the midterm that our country will be able to make the sort of adjustment they need to make as China is growing stronger and the U.S. is dealing with its own challenges,” said Stratford. “But I think we're going to have to be a little far-sighted and keep in mind the things that are most important.” 
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