Xi is between a rock and a hard place on this one. If he gives in to even the most reasonable US demands and even moderate pain results from it, he will be blamed for it and this gives him real trouble. If he resists those demands and tariffs start to take a heavy toll on the Chinese economy, he can always blame those unreasonable Americans. Nobody is going to check how possibly unreasonable Chinas stance might have been and how reasonable the US demands were or vice versa. But he also knows that this is not the end of the story. Nationalistic fervor keeps people motivated for a while, rage masks some problems but not for long. In the end, when pain gets more serious, people lose jobs, businesses close, investment falters and the new Chinese middle class shrivels people and also the nomenclatura will have the effect of their drug – eternal growth – taken from them cold turkey. And when the drug wears off, all the pent-up problems will re-emerge.
Early this month, the Chinese government sent the U.S. a trade deal draft that had been slashed from 150 pages — painstakingly assembled by both sides over five months of negotiations — to 105.