WASHINGTON — President Trump is confident that the United States is winning its trade war with China. But on both sides of the Pacific, a bleaker recognition is taking hold: The world’s two largest economies are in the opening stages of a new economic Cold War, one that could persist long after Mr. Trump is out of office.
“This thing will last long,” Jack Ma, the billionaire chairman of Alibaba Group, warned a meeting of investors on Tuesday in Hangzhou, China. “If you want a short-term solution, there is no solution.”
Mr. Trump ratcheted up his trade fight this week, imposing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatening to tax nearly all imports from China if it dared to retaliate. His position has bewildered, frustrated and provoked Beijing, which has responded with its own levies on American goods.
The diplomatic stalemate has many in the business and policy communities considering the possibility that the United States may be in a protracted and economically damaging trade fight for years to come and wondering what, if anything, America will gain.
Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister of Australia and an expert on China, said 2018 signaled “the beginnings of a war of a different type: a trade war, an investment war and a technology war between the two great powers of the 21st century, with an uncertain landing point.”
澳大利亚前总理、中国问题专家陆克文(Kevin Rudd)表示,2018年预示着“一场有着不同形式的战争开始了:贸易战、投资战,以及21世纪两个大国之间的科技战,落点尚不确定”。
The latest tit-for-tat leaves little room for concessions, at least in the interim, as both countries dig in their heels and China tries to remain strong, despite an economic softening that Mr. Trump clearly sees as an opening to force Beijing’s hand.
Chinese growth in investment, factory production and consumer spending have all slowed this year, and its economic growth has slowed alongside. The situation is expected to worsen as effects of the escalating American tariffs ramp up.
While the United States made overtures toward China in recent days to talk trade in Washington this month, some officials said they now doubted Beijing would engage again at a high level until after the midterm elections in November, when President Xi Jinping may meet Mr. Trump on the sidelines of an economic summit meeting in Buenos Aires.
Mr. Trump himself seemed to dangle the prospect that he, and he alone, could broker a resolution that threatened to cause economic pain to companies and consumers on both sides of the Pacific.
“Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection,” Mr. Trump said in his statement announcing the tariffs.
 “希望这个贸易形势最终能由我和中国的习主席解决,我对他怀有敬意和好感,” 特朗普在宣布关税的声明中说。
Yet it is not clear that either side will see a reason to back down. Aides to Mr. Trump say the president believes that the United States has the upper hand on China, with an ability to impose tariffs on a far larger number of goods than the Chinese can match given that America imports far more than it exports. And while the tariffs are unpopular with Republican lawmakers, farmers and manufacturers, his trade approach remains popular with his political base.
特朗普总统11月在北京与中国国家主席习近平会晤。 据分析人士称,向特朗普让步对习近平将是一种软弱的表现。
特朗普总统11月在北京与中国国家主席习近平会晤。 据分析人士称,向特朗普让步对习近平将是一种软弱的表现。 Doug Mills/The New York Times
The Chinese side has its own political reasons to avoid capitulation. Acceding to Mr. Trump would be considered a sign of weakness for Mr. Xi, according to analysts.
And they see no sign that China is willing to give up on Made in China 2025, an industrial program that aims for dominance in robotics, artificial intelligence, and other high tech industries that have been the domain of the United States and Europe and that Mr. Trump has identified as a policy initiative that must be stopped.
While Chinese officials have expressed a willingness to get rid of the name Made in China 2025, they have been much more cautious about accepting limits on some of the crucial features of the country’s industrial policy, like big loans from state-owned banks at very low interest rates to favored industries.
Inside the White House, there remains a pitched battle between those who want to make a deal with Beijing and those who are determined to keep piling on pressure to force a more radical change in its trade practices. At the moment, the hard liners have Mr. Trump’s ear.
“You would expect the administration to have tabled a negotiating text with a clear set of commitments, but that has apparently not been done,” said Daniel M. Price, a former trade adviser to President George W. Bush. “There are some in the administration who see tariffs as an end in themselves.”
“你会期望政府拿出一份谈判文本,里面列出了一系列明确承诺,但政府显然没有这么做,”曾给乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)总统担任贸易顾问的丹尼尔·M·普莱斯(Daniel M. Price)表示, “政府中有些人认为,关税本身就是目的。”
Mr. Price said the Trump administration had done a good job of cataloging China’s abuses: theft of intellectual property, forced transfer of technology from foreign companies, predatory joint venture agreements. But it has failed to marshal a coalition to confront China, instead provoking separate trade fights with the European Union, Japan, Canada and Mexico by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum and threatening additional taxes on imported cars.
“Doing this without the E.U. and Japan fully on board as though Chinese unfair trade practices were only a bilateral problem is wrongheaded and certainly less effective,” he said. “But it’s very hard to galvanize your allies when you impose steel and aluminum tariffs on them and threaten auto tariffs.”
For China, a complicating factor is figuring out who has influence in Mr. Trump’s White House. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been leading the negotiations, invited China’s top trade negotiator, Liu He, to Washington for a meeting next week, even though his last visit ended badly when Mr. Trump spurned a deal that would have cut the American trade deficit with China.
对于中国来说,一个复杂因素是弄清楚究竟谁对特朗普白宫具有影响力。一直领导谈判的美国财政部长史蒂芬·马努钦(Steven Mnuchin)邀请中国最高贸易谈判代表刘鹤下周在华盛顿会面,尽管刘鹤上次访美的结果并不好,特朗普回绝了一项本来可以削减美中贸易逆差的协议。
Mr. Mnuchin believes the United States must be open to talks as long as China is willing to address structural issues, including the trade gap between what America exports and what it imports, pressure on American companies to hand over valuable technology as a condition for doing business in China and intellectual property theft.
Other senior officials, notably Peter Navarro, who oversees the office of trade and manufacturing policy, have told colleagues that inviting the Chinese now was a sign of weakness. Mr. Navarro, an economist who made his name with book titles like “Death by China,” is among those who favor putting more pressure on China to force a change in its behavior.
其他的高级官员,尤其是负责贸易和制造业政策办公室的彼得·纳瓦罗(Peter Navarro)曾跟同事讲,现在邀请中国人是软弱的表现。作为一名以《致命中国》(Death by China)这样的书而为人所知的经济学家,纳瓦罗是主张向中国施加更大压力、迫使其改变行为的人之一。
His office produced a compendious report in June called, “How China’s Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World.” In early May, he and Mr. Mnuchin clashed openly during a visit to Beijing after Mr. Mnuchin excluded him and other American officials from a private meeting with Mr. Liu.
It is not clear whether Mr. Liu will visit Washington next week. But even if he does, people who have spoken to Chinese officials said the unraveling of the agreement Mr. Liu believed he had struck on his last visit would make him reluctant to make any deal this time.
“The Chinese deep learning from that is, ‘We should not substantively re-engage until the administration has its internal house in order,’” said Mr. Rudd, who is now the president of the Asia Society Policy Institute.
现任亚洲协会政策研究所(Asia Society Policy Institute)所长的陆克文说,“中国人从中学到的深刻教训是,‘在那个政府内部理顺之前,我们不应该进行实质性的重新接触’。”
After months of bruising encounters with Mr. Trump, Mr. Rudd said Chinese officials recognized that they would need to change their policies on trade and market access. But he said Mr. Xi was no less likely than Mr. Trump to risk losing face by giving in to American pressure.
“China has politics too,” he said. “The whole notion of ‘back down’ and ‘face’ is as live a consideration within internal Chinese politics as it is within U.S. politics.”
Mr. Trump’s aggressive moves drew intense criticism from some quarters at home. Fred Smith, the chief executive of FedEx and an enthusiastic supporter of the president’s tax cuts, called his trade policy a form of mercantilism that was “worrisome to everyone.”
特朗普咄咄逼人的举动,在美国国内招致了一些人士的强烈批评。特朗普减税政策的热心支持者、联邦快递(FedEx)的首席执行官弗雷德·史密斯(Fred Smith)称,特朗普的贸易政策是一种“让所有人担心”的重商主义。
But Mr. Trump has shown little sign of changing course. While there are differences among members of his economic team, there is a broad consensus in the administration about taking a hawkish stance toward China. Some point to evidence that the trade pressure on China was making it less adventurous in the East China Sea, where it spars regularly with Japan.
Mr. Trump has forged ahead with tariffs even while saying that the trade tensions were making China less cooperative in pressuring North Korea on its nuclear arsenal — a claim that puzzles some of his own advisers.
“They have been helpful; I hope they’re still helpful,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference Tuesday with the Polish president, Andrzej Duda. “There’s a question about that.”
“他们一直在帮忙;我希望他们仍然能帮上忙,”特朗普周二在与波兰总统安杰伊·杜达(Andrzej Duda)举行的新闻发布会上说。“这方面是存在疑问的。”
But the president added, “It got to a point where the numbers were too big.” China “rebuilt their country with tremendous amounts of money pouring out of the United States,” he said. “And I’ve changed that around.”