Beijing could be the wildcard in trade negotiations with Washington, according to Europe's second-largest fund manager.
"The bigger risk of a trade war lies in the Chinese side rather than the U.S. side," said Martin Gilbert, co-chief executive of global investment firm Standard Life Aberdeen.
President Donald Trump is used to making compromises in deal-making, Gilbert told CNBC's Nancy Hungerford on the sidelines of the Singapore Summit over the weekend. But "whether China will do that, I think is the bigger risk," he continued.
Trump has made clear that he has no intention of backing down on retaliatory tariffs that threaten to disrupt global supply chains, even as Washington and Beijing prepare to meet later this month to resolve their differences.
The White House is reportedly planning a fresh round of duties on up to $200 billion of Chinese goods. If that takes place, Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration may not want to participate in bilateral talks, The Wall Street Journal announced on Sunday.