A sense of nationalism is growing in China, and that could bolster support for those hoping to wait out the trade dispute with the U.S., said Max Baucus, a former American ambassador to China.

“Don’t forget … Chinese (are) very patient historically, they’ll wait it out, they’ll play lots of different angles. They’re going to try to hang in there, waiting for President (Donald) Trump to come to them,” he told CNBC on Monday.

“There’s a feeling that nationalism is getting a little stronger … I think that’s also emboldening President Xi,” said Baucus, who served as ambassador to China from February 2014 to January 2017, under former President Barack Obama’s administration.

The Chinese are afraid to reach a deal with this president — it may not last, they can’t count on it, he might change his mind again.

Max Baucus

former American ambassador to China

Unpredictable Trump

There are also trust issues between the two sides as Beijing perceives Trump as unpredictable, said Baucus.

“From China’s perspective, China … has a hard time trusting President Trump, who keeps changing his mind. He pulls out the rug from under his negotiators … The Chinese are afraid to reach a deal with this president — it may not last, they can’t count on it, he might change his mind again,” Baucus said.

“If there’s another administration, they think it might be better in the sense that it’d be more predictable, there’d be less uncertainty. It’d be more standard negotiations,” he continued. U.S. presidential elections are slated to take place in November 2020, with much debate on whether both parties would come to an agreement before the polls.

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Ahead of 70th anniversary

Meanwhile, China’s closely-watched 70th National Day anniversary is coming up on October 1, and it “will dominate coming weeks, both politically and economically,” said risk consultancy Eurasia Group in a Friday note.

There will be “an acute awareness for any attempts to interfere in Chinese domestic affairs in the coming weeks,” analysts at Eurasia wrote.

“Xi may use the platform to speak about Hong Kong and Taiwan, potentially introducing additional volatility into already tense situations,” they wrote.

Since early June, increasingly violent protests have gripped Hong Kong and China has had terse exchanges with both the U.S. and the U.K. over the months-long protests, accusing them of stirring up the unrest.



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