|I see a "trade divorce" with China rather than a trade deal because China is not yet prepared to change and prosecute their laws in a way which upholds the rights of foreign IP owners - and in my opinion this is the key problem with China trade, not a trade imbalance. But US exports to China are so small the US has little to lose until this problem is addressed.|
The FBI and Cyber Division created the criminal cases against ZTE, Huawei and additional companies yet to be announced during the Obama administration, which greatly cripples China's tech-based exports.
Trump has added import tariffs to this, which is mutually self-harming until businesses redirect their supply chains away from China. Lightheizer also wants a full disclosure of communist party funding to China's companies, numbers which I doubt even the Chinese leadership knows.
China's propaganda machine has pitched up a shrill anti-foreign campaign citing a 5,000 year history of imagined slights which have nothing to do with China today, but is quickly making life difficult for westerners living in China. In the process China's deliberate conflation of opposition to China's centrally-planned maoist-lenininst government as "Western racism" has made it largely impossible for them to concede to IP protection or allowing the the future imposition of tariffs or other penalties if China does not heed any agreement they sign.
Globally companies and the US military have prepared for a cut in exports of so called "rare earths" from China since 2012 when they briefly cut-off the supply to Japan. The US primary mine is 25% rare earths compared with the 0.625% purity in China's mines, and the US military has funded the development of a much cleaner and less costly process the separate the various elements from each other with a solvent and a series of mixing settling tanks being build currently at the California mine once owned by Chevron. Since 2012 a large portion of the "rare earth oxides" imported from China has gone into building stockpiles. Tailings from Florida's massive phosphate mines are a secondary source of a mind boggling quantity of "rare earths" - which contrary to the name aren't rare but as common as calcium and magnesium.
China is operating from a position of fundamental weakness having raised their pirate flag a couple of generations too soon. But their propaganda to their public have made it virtually impossible for them to come to the IP protecting trade terms we require. So it's a divorce.