February 22, 2020

Why China and the U.S. Can't Work It Out

“CANBERRA – Trade negotiations between the United States and China have broken down because the US government says the Chinese were walking back their agreement on matters that had previously been addressed. US negotiators and President Donald Trump were furious, and on May 10, Trump more than doubled US tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China. The lead Chinese negotiator, Liu He, told reporters that, because a final agreement was not reached, revisions were not “walked back,” a line that the US side does not seem to buy. The Chinese government has now retaliated, announcing that it will raise tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods.

These latest developments cast fresh doubt on prospects for a successful conclusion to the US-China trade negotiations. Although it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the breakdown in talks, I suspect a clash of negotiating norms and styles may have played a role, in addition to differences on substance.

In an Executive MBA course on the Chinese economy that I have taught at Columbia Business School for the past ten years, we do a mock negotiation between a US and a Chinese team. We then discuss how norms and styles of negotiation may differ across cultures. One takeaway from this session is that some differences in norms of which the two sides are unaware can cause talks to break down.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."

"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones. But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but..."

"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."

"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."

"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."

"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."

"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."

"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."