A Communist Party mouthpiece is crowing that malfunctioning U.S. leadership is making China "great again" on the eve of highly anticipated bilateral trade talks between the two countries.
The op-ed published in the People's Daily said the U.S. was in political chaos and suffered from a broken system, which was why Washington couldn't get anything done. It also claimed the U.S. mess was giving China an opportunity to shine.
"U.S. foreign policy is in total disarray, and world regard for the U.S. has plummeted. Indeed, America is making China 'great again,'" the op-ed said. "Once the world's model, the great American meltdown has turned the U.S. into some bizarre soap opera."
This isn't the first time China has piggybacked off an American saying — remember President Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream" slogan? This time around, the tone is a bit sharper, with Chinese state media not backing down ahead of annual bilateral talks that have been rebranded this year as the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.
Although both Beijing and Washington have indicated they understand the need to play nice, both sides are pushing their own agenda as expected.
The U.S. wants to reduce the more than $300 billion trade deficit with China and make good on a campaign promise from President Donald Trump to pressure China on a number of fronts, such as opening up its markets to more foreign participation and to bring jobs back to America.
China, on the other hand, has pushed back, saying Chinese investment has helped the U.S. But it's clear that as the U.S. continues to face political turmoil, China is enjoying its time in the spotlight. That is, Beijing is explicitly seeking to fill the void the U.S. left as it backed out of various multilateral talks and agreements from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal to the Paris climate change agreement.
Regardless of the rhetoric leading up to the U.S.-China talks, experts are looking to see what agreements may have been reached at the end of the 100-day trade plan period struck by Trump and Xi earlier this year, which ended this past weekend.
The U.S. has been keen to push tangible, specific agreements, which government officials echoed again ahead of the talks. One recent success was the lifting of a 14-year ban on U.S. exports of beef to China.
"Though this is a good start, a lot of work remains," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. "There remain serious imbalances, which we must work to rectify. China's exports to the U.S. as we all know far exceed the exports of the U.S. to China, and the U.S. market has far fewer restrictions on Chinese investment than China has on U.S. investment."