Cheng Xiaonong: The CCP is Simply Playing Along; Will The Trump-Xi Meeting Resolve Anything?

Cheng Xiaonong: The CCP is Simply Playing Along; Will The Trump-Xi Meeting Resolve Anything?
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is flanked by U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
On the eve of the Trump-Xi meeting, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s official media has once more strongly castigated the "surrender faction” as well as intensively bombarded U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post also released a report on June 24 saying that Xi Jinping had received an "inspiring" report, which states that Beijing is fully capable of coping with the impact of the trade war, and that there is no need to make concessions to the United States at the G20 summit.
As the world prepares for the Trump-Xi meeting on June 29, has the CCP really become emboldened, or is it merely playing along?
In this regard, the Epoch Times reporter interviewed Mr. Cheng Xiaonong, a political and economics scholar who holds Ph.D. of sociology from Princeton University.
Epoch Times (ET): In the upcoming Trump-Xi meeting, do you think Xi Jinping will make concessions ?
Cheng Xiaonong (CX): I think (the CCP) will not give in, and whoever thinks this way is mistaken. The CCP’s domestic and overseas media have repeatedly stated that they will not make concessions. It is nothing more than some media looking forward to a U.S. concession or a China concession so that their business can continue to run, who are always putting out these words. I think it is the Western media that should be evaluated, because there is no possibility of the CCP making concessions, and so there is no need to discuss concessions. The CCP never intended to make concessions.
It is putting up an act, and there are no results. China will not show absolute refusal in sitting on the negotiating table, nor will it cause a fit on the table, but it will also not promise anything. It is now taking on an innocent look, to act as if the United States is harming China’s interests, so it is asking the United States to alleviate the pressure. It believes that everything it does is justified; infringement of intellectual property rights is justified, and stealing American corporate knowhow is justified. And then when you tell the CCP that it is violating international property rights conventions, it digresses. This is its plan of negotiation, and this is nothing new.
ET: In negotiating with the United States, what kind of hand does Beijing have in play?
CX: I don’t like using the analogy of “cards” to explain. It is not as if, if its hands are a little better, it will change its position. In fact, this is not the case at all. The CCP’s established position is very clear; it wants to change the order of the entire international economy and let this order serve the CCP. Anything that does not conform to the wishes and purposes of the CCP are categorically resisted, it’s as simple as that. So if you can understand this, then all the strategies it plays are easier to understand. All strategies are aimed at serving this goal.
ET: Since if the CCP won’t give in, how will Xi Jinping negotiate with Trump?
CX: The CCP’s negotiating strategy has never changed, that is, “to delay and wait for a regime change, and prevent further losses by war.” On the issue of intellectual property, it intends to continue fighting the United States. At least the themes that are dragging out right now can continue to be dragged out. If it concedes to the United States to stop infringing intellectual property rights, the CCP will lock itself up.
ET: Xinhua News Agency's "Xinhua Daily Telegraph" published an article on June 26 that concerning the supposed factions within China advocating concession, these people were characterized as to be "throwing a grenade backwards," and should be resisted.
CX: This is to scare the Chinese people. Its purpose is to unify speech and obstruct public opinion.
ET: Has the Sino-U.S. trade war hit the Chinese economy?
CX: It has not been hit hard, it has just begun. It will be worse in the future. But being hit hard doesn’t mean the CCP will make concessions, because it will be hit even harder if it makes concessions.
ET: Recently, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission issued a document requesting all party and government officials to invest in the securities market in a legal way, saying that this would be supporting national trade.
CX: The stock market is floundering, and foreign companies are divesting... so it uses political means (to encourage action). This is why the CCP will not suddenly collapse, because authoritarian states have countless means of alleviating problems. The people have no means of resisting their will. At most, they can whisper privately in WeChat groups, which does not scare the Communist Party.
ET: Before Trump departed for Japan to attend the G20 summit, he said that he might impose a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion in Chinese goods, instead of the original 25 percent.
CX: The reason Trump’s lowering his posture is very simple. He is the elected president of a democratic country; he must take into account public opinion. Even if he wants to impose sanctions on the CCP, he must also show sufficient reason. He has to prove that there is no other means except to impose sanctions; only then can he impose sanctions. Therefore, he is constantly talking about continuing negotiations. The purpose is to justify his actions to Americans and U.S. companies. It’s not that the U.S. government does not want to negotiate, but that the CCP is not willing to talk.
ET: Recently, a number of large U.S. companies jointly signed a letter to Trump asking him to abandon tariffs on Chinese goods on the grounds that this hurts American companies and consumers.
CX: There are indeed many companies in the United States that are dragging his feet. The CCP always talks about negotiating, talking and negotiating, always talking to you, and there will never be any results. It is stalling for time, and they think if they drag things out and Trump leaves office, everything will be solved. The CCP hopes that an increase in tariffs causes a backlash in the United States, leading to Trump’s defeat in the 2020 Presidential Election. Then the CCP will say, “you see, follow us and prosper, but oppose us and die.”
ET: Can Trump continue to maintain position in this situation?
CX: The United States may gradually exert more pressure. Where the United States is actually exerting pressure is not tariffs, but regulations. These regulations include embargoing Chinese companies, adding Chinese companies to the transactions blacklist, and restricting Chinese students from studying abroad. These measures are a gesture towards the CCP: If you want to undermine international rules, we do not accept it. But the United States will not immediately make the CCP feel massive pain, nor will it let the U.S. economy suffer huge losses.
Earlier I mentioned CCP’s strategy to “delay and wait for a change.” Change here refers to Trump stepping down. Therefore, it hopes that Trump will take drastic measures, the more intense the better, thereby causing a domestic backlash in the United States and cause him to be defeated in the 2020 election. If Trump takes relatively moderate measures, the CCP will not be happy because it will be unable to achieve its goal. If it drags things out to the very end, and Trump is still this president by the end of next year, then there will be no hope.