Virusgate and the Trade Agreement: What Did the President Know- and When Did He Know It? By: Neil S. Siskind

By: Neil S. Siskind

As I duly noted at the time, President Xi Jinping was, strangely, almost completely silent on trade in the days and weeks leading-up to the January 15th signing of the Economic And Trade Agreement Between The United States Of America And The People’s Republic Of China (herein, the “Trade Agreement”)- which he did not, personally, attend.

The Chinese government recently released a President Xi speech from February 3rd where Xi asserted that at a January 7th meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, he was already leading a national effort to contain the coronavirus. This was almost two weeks before he first issued “public” orders for officials to help contain the outbreak (and eight days before Liu He and a Chinese trade delegation traveled to the White House to sign the Trade Agreement).

President Xi publicly addressed the crisis for the first time on January 20th (six days post Trade Agreement signing) in a directive urging party committees and governments at all levels to take measures, including lockdowns and quarantines, to curb the spread of the epidemic- a directive that, clearly, must have been under consideration for days, and, probably, weeks prior.

Did President Xi and the Chinese government fail to publicly disclose the coronavirus outbreak before January 20th and/or downplay the extent and danger of the outbreak to, among other things, prevent the Trade Agreement from getting derailed due to the Trump administration believing that it was about to provide tariff forbearance and tariff rollbacks to China without the possibility of a real quid pro quo?

Did President Xi finally concede to the Trade Agreement only due to his concerns about the potential economic problems that China could be about to face from the coronavirus outbreak? Did he suddenly become determined to prevent any further tariffs- by any means- knowing, all the while, that China might not be able to meet the purchase requirements?

Moreover, did President Xi send a ten-person trade delegation from China, with all of their aides and assistants, into the White House on January 15th (at least eight days after he was- according to his own account- already fully aware of the virus and its effects), to meet, greet, shake hands with, and share work-space with the President of the United States, the President’s Cabinet, Republican members of Congress, governors from around the country, and various business leaders, with the full knowledge that a contagious and deadly virus was circulating within China, without fully informing U.S. officials of the known scope of the danger?

Talk about starting-off a deal without trust- what could be more symbolic of what it means to do business with China than China leading-off with a giant and potentially deadly deception upon officials at our highest levels of government?

And, what about The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in late January? How many Chinese executives were present- and how many executives at Davos had very recently been to China, and were now walking around Davos hugging, kissing, and handshaking with business executives who then returned to the U.S. and their respective business headquarters (not to mention, to their homes and families)? What level of risk has this imposed to the United States and the world?

Of course, this is all not to mention all of the Chinese business travelers and tourists who were permitted to enter the United States even after the coronavirus and its dangers became known in China in early January, due to our own lack of knowledge of the depth and peril of the situation.

If President Xi or any of China’s high level officials were on notice that the coronavirus outbreak was so vast, and the virus so contagious, as to potentially present a risk to China’s economy and to China’s ability to meet its obligations under the Trade Agreement, while, nevertheless, agreeing to the Trade Agreement’s terms in order to induce the United States to forbear from levying more tariffs, as was being threatened and planned at the time, without disclosing the situation to the United States, this would be the omission of a material fact by the Chinese (i.e. a material misrepresentation) and amount to China’s “fraudulent inducement” (or, “fraud in the inducement”) of the United States to enter into the Trade Agreement- which would make the Trade Agreement voidable by the United States (at least, it would do so under all U.S. states’ laws). The Chinese would, of course, continue to argue that China can, and will, perform. But, the Trump administration could argue that it would not have refrained from levying new tariffs and would not have rolled-back existing tariffs, in the first place, with both of these actions having been taken in advance of China’s promised performance, had they known, or if the administration had reason to believe, that there is a high risk of nonperformance by China.

But, these legalities don’t even matter. The United States can, simply, walk away from the Trade Agreement without any legal ramifications; and, from a practical standpoint, China would suffer far more than would the United States.

In fact, Article 8.3 of the Trade Agreement allows for either party to cancel the Trade Agreement without cause, and without any legal standard having to be met.

“Article 8.3: Entry into Force and Termination

2. Either Party may terminate this Agreement by providing written notice of termination to the other Party. The termination shall take effect 60 days after the date on which a Party has provided that written notice to the other Party, or on such other date as the Parties may decide.”

Perhaps the United States (and the world) would suffer as a result of the “uncertainty” in global commerce and in financial markets that a walk-away from, or a voiding or termination of, the Trade Agreement would create. But, look at the yield curve. Look at the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Look at the long bond. Look at commodities prices. Look at industrial production. Look at oil. Listen to coronavirus reports. Listen to or read the Fed’s and the ECB’s recent statements. Do we have much certainty now? Should we continue to operate under a politically and economically unproductive deal to boot?

At the least, let’s renegotiate for an immediate quid pro quo- such as the acceleration of one or more of the phase II legal or structural changes in China.

As part of any Virusgate inquiry into President Xi’s actions and intentions in early January related to the coronavirus outbreak and the Trade Agreement, two questions that will ring very familiar to most Americans need to be asked about President Xi:

What did the President know- and when did he know it?

_ _ _

About the Writer

Restructure and reduce business and personal debts; collect debts owed; monetize receivables by selling your invoices:

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Neil Siskind is: President of The Siskind Law Firm,, focused on debt negotiation and restructuring, debt collection, debt investing, product investments, trademark licensing, and product distribution; Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment™, a think tank and advocate for children with absentee fathers; Founder of the global charity marketing initiative, Caring is Free®; Founder of National Fatherhood Day™; Owner & Conservator of The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve, over 9 acres of conserved waterfront land along New York’s majestic Hudson River; and author of The Complete Guide To The Ways To Manufacture & Sell Your Products. On December 11, 2017, in his article The Yield Curve Speaketh: Why Stocks Might Crash in Early 2018, Neil Siskind accurately predicted the February, 2018 stock crash, the largest single-day point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s history. All the stock indices are down approximately 6% for 2018. In his September 26, 2018 article, Lots of “Bull” In The Bull Market: Let’s Look At What’s “Really” Growing, Neil Siskind explained that, despite Wall Street’s bullishness, the economic data and stock market underpinnings were in decline, and the economy and stocks were at imminent risk. By the closing of markets on October 23, 2018, the S&P 500 had fallen approximately 7%, with October being the S&P’s worst month since August 2015 (and December being the S&P’s worst month ever), the Nasdaq continues to have its worst month since 2016, and is down approximately 8% from article publication, and the DJIA is having its worst monthly performance since 2008. In 2018, Neil Siskind coined the phrase “synchronized global slowth™” (or “synchronous slowth™”) to describe the occurrence or condition of multiple emerging market and developed market economies commencing a downward trajectory of economic and GDP growth, or actually contracting to a point of slow, stagnant, or negative economic and GDP growth, simultaneously. If you are in need of office space in South Florida, contact Neil Siskind about space availability at The Siskind Executive Office Complex in Boca Raton, FL.

Other Recent Articles by Neil S. Siskind:

Settle Debts, Restructure Debts, Collect Debts, Sell Receivables: Debt Solutions From The Siskind Law Firm- 

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