In 1985, the heavies gathered at the Plaza Hotel on 59th Street in New York and hammered out a currency agreement. (This was, by the way, pre-Donald Trump ownership of the Plaza, when it was one of the world's premier hotels.)
At the time, Japan was going to buy the parts of the world it didn't already own. They probably grew to regret the agreements made that day.
Japan allowed the yen to appreciate, causing an influx of money into the country. The rise in the yen made their exports uncompetitive, and, says Barron's, the weekend publication from The Wall Street Journal, this was largely responsible for the Japanese malaise of the last twenty years.
The International Monetary Fund gave it a try this past weekend, but no deal was in sight. Perhaps the Chinese learned from the Japanese experience long ago, or perhaps they are just sick of being labeled the cause of the world's economic/trade problems.
The hostility between Washington and Beijing has, says the Financial Times of London, escalated "into something resembling trench warfare."
The US is (almost) saying what everyone knows, and that is China is manipulating its currency by keeping a hard peg to the dollar when, if left by itself, the renminbi would appreciate significantly. In so doing, say China's critics, they are preventing global recovery by hoarding the market for exports.