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Donald Trump's anniversary wish for China: congratulations on your milestone, but we will beat you in trade war

Owen Churchill

US President Donald Trump wished China a "happy birthday" on Monday, while vowing at the same time to prevail in the trade war and berating Beijing for not accepting an earlier drafted deal.

"We are winning, and we will win," Trump wrote in a Twitter post, one day ahead of celebrations in China marking the 70th anniversary of the country's founding.

"They should not have broken the deal we had with them," Trump tweeted. "Happy Birthday China!"

The US leader's jibe appeared to have been prompted by a morning appearance on the Fox Business Network by author and China expert Jonathan Ward, who said the US was waking up to Beijing's plans to "surpass [the US] as the dominant, economic and military superpower in the 21st century".

" Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019

Trump roughly quoted Ward in his Monday tweet when the author said Washington's response to China's growing power was "taking shape in trade, it's taking shape in military competition and it's going to start potentially taking place in financial markets".

Since Bloomberg reported on Friday that the administration was considering restricting US investment in China, White House officials have sought to play down the prospects for such a move.

Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro denounced the reports as "fake news" while the Treasury department said the government had no plans to ban Chinese companies listing on US stock exchanges "at this time".

In his tweet, Trump cut the quote short to omit Ward's mention of Washington's strategy hitting Beijing in the sphere of financial investment.

Trump's birthday message to China came as Chinese negotiators prepare to travel to Washington for high-level talks to resolve a confrontation that began over a year ago and has seen most goods that flow between the two countries subject to punitive and retaliatory tariffs.

Trump's tweet referred to US negotiators' disclosure earlier this year that a deal was "90 per cent" complete before talks broke down. Washington has accused Beijing of reneging on several critical components of what was an evolving agreement.

Beijing rejected the accusations, saying it was entitled to continue negotiating any terms before a deal was signed.

Vice-Premier Liu He is to lead China's delegation to the US for a round of talks set to take place on October 10 and 11, CNBC reported last week, citing several sources close to the talks.

Stakes for those talks are high, with the US entering the holiday season and the Trump administration planning to increase tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese goods from 25 to 30 per cent on October 15, just days after the discussions are expected to wrap up.

China's Vice-Premier Liu He speaks with US President Donald Trump during a trade meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on April 4. Photo: AFP alt=China's Vice-Premier Liu He speaks with US President Donald Trump during a trade meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on April 4. Photo: AFP

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Trump said he would not accept a "bad deal for the American people", but told reporters a day later that an agreement could be reached "sooner than you think".

The coming tariff increase was initially scheduled for October 1, but the Trump administration agreed to push it back by two weeks at Beijing's request, to mitigate the potential embarrassment for the Chinese government of having America's punitive actions clash with China's National Day festivities.

The celebration will feature a military parade through Beijing and a speech by President Xi Jinping.

The anniversary will give Beijing an opportunity to flex its military muscle after years of reform in its armed forces, as Xi is expected to inspect dozens of infantry squads and more than a dozen airborne squadrons.

Trump called for the arrest of House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff for reading a parody of the president's notorious call with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: Washington Post alt=Trump called for the arrest of House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff for reading a parody of the president's notorious call with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: Washington Post

Trump's own effort to imbue America's Independence Day celebrations with a demonstration of US military might resulted in a flyover by F-18 jets and a handful of M1 Abrams tanks sitting on truck beds to avoid damaging the roads in Washington.

Besides wishing Beijing a "happy birthday", Trump used his Monday tweet to congratulate himself on his administration's tough response to China's global ambitions, inserting a "thank you President Trump" into the middle of Ward's quote.

Trump has not taken kindly to others taking liberties with their own characterisations of his remarks.

On Monday, he called for the arrest of House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, who is heading part of a House impeachment inquiry, for reading a parody of a call between Trump and Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

The parody, which Schiff delivered during a Thursday hearing on Capitol Hearing, had Trump asking Zelensky several times to "make up dirt" on a political opponent, a reference to Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Schiff emphasised during he hearing that he was illustrating a point.

Trump suggested Schiff could be tried for treason, which in the US carries a maximum penalty of death.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.