"Donald Trump has a different view. He thinks it's forcing China to make concessions; he genuinely believes that," Woodward told hosts John Kiriakou and Walter Smolarek when asked whether Trump was perhaps trying to gain some momentum on the trade talks through his comments Sunday.
"It is a little bit remarkable, because we know there is a difference in opinion in the administration, including within the negotiating team with [US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin] being much more in favor of there being a [trade] deal [between China and the US]. This announcement from Trump comes on top of Mnuchin's announcement that talks were going well [as well as] statements from Trump that the talks were going rather well. So, it is somewhat surprising. I think it is a judgment, or misjudgment, on Trump's part that more can be got out of the Chinese by stepping up the pressure, but I don't believe that will actually work," Woodward explained.
"Over the course of the last week or so, we've seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from commitments that have already been made, in our judgment," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters in Washington, DC, on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, over the weekend, Mnuchin suggested that talks with Chinese officials were going "substantially backward," and that Chinese officials were "trying to go back on some of the language" that had already been negotiated.
Despite the comments by Trump officials, Chinese officials are still expected to show up in Washington Thursday to continue trade negotiations, one day later than had originally been scheduled.
"China has offered, from the beginning, greater controls on intellectual property rights, which is one of the key things that was raised. It's [China] being prepared to make some concessions… but its not going to give away the right to support its own crucial industries. I think the Chinese had to make a lot of concessions on buying more US — produced goods to try to reduce the trade deficit," Woodward told Sputnik.
"China has got a very expanding market compared to other markets in the world, including the US, which is bigger as a market but is not expanding as fast. So, China is willing to… import US goods, so that's quite a good deal for the US, really, not so good for some of the US' allies. It's a concession to the US' concern, but clearly, Trump can think that more can be got by stepping up the pressure," Woodward added.
According to Woodward, the trade war slowed down China's economic expansion at the end of last year. However, the state of China's economy does not seem to be currently affected much by the trade war.
"I think they [China] made a misjudgment about how serious Trump was on pursuing the trade war. And so there has been now been a boost of investment, and the figures for the early quarter of this year were rather good coming out of China, including industrial production. So I don't think it's having too much effect on China. It's a little hard to say," Woodward noted.
However, overall relations between China and the US aren't great, according to Woodward, who referenced a recent statement by State Department Policy Planning Director Kiron Skinner that claimed China presents a "long-term threat" to the US because it is a "really different civilization."
"It's also striking that it's the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian," Skinner said, resulting in Chinese news outlet The Global Times denouncing the comments, saying they "discriminate against Chinese civilization."
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.