Trump's `Barking Dogs' Lack Art of Deal, Ex-PBOC Adviser Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. trade team’s antagonistic posture in Beijing last week makes it more difficult to solve disputes, yet an accord remains possible, said a former People’s Bank of China adviser.

“Trump has sent out a team of barking dogs -- forgive my language, I have full respect for these American officials, but they’re perceived to be overly aggressive, unnecessarily aggressive by the Chinese general public,” Li Daokui, now an economics professor at Tsinghua University, said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview in Beijing.

The posture of the delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made reaching a deal difficult and left China cornered with no choice but to retaliate, said Li, founding dean of Tsinghua’s Schwarzman College, a new business program backed by Blackstone Group LP Chairman Stephen Schwarzman.

Read More: U.S.-China Trade Talks End in Discord as Demands Show Wide Rift

The U.S. should send officials who are cooperative, effective, and less high-profile, Li told Bloomberg’s Stephen Engle on the sidelines of the JPMorgan Global China Summit in Beijing. The White House said Monday that Vice Premier Liu He, President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, plans to visit Washington next week to resume negotiations.

Criticisms aside, Li says he re-read Donald Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal,” and bought 50 copies of the Chinese version for friends who influence policy to help them learn about the unconventional president.

“We have to understand his mentality, his tactics,” said Li, who spent almost 15 years in the U.S. “I truly respect President Trump. I say this on record. He’s a wonderful business person.”

But after re-reading the book, Li concludes “this isn’t a way of negotiation, not a way of Art of Deal. This is a business negotiation where one side demands everything, leaving zero surplus, profit for the other side.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net, Stephen Engle in Beijing at sengle1@bloomberg.net.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Miao Han, Stephen Engle