There is no way of predicting where this goes. Both Trump and Xi Jinping are, in their own ways, detached from reality and driven by vanity. Even if they appear to behave rationally, it might be by accident.
The moderate voice of reason supposes that economic pain will cause one side to make concessions, which the other will thankfully accept and reciprocate, to everyone’s relief – and it’s back to happy days again. We are assured that the US, with its decadent bourgeois democracy, is more vulnerable to cracking.
But this is hard to square with the increasing hostility. With Beijing resorting to nationalistic bombast about a People’s Struggle, and the US pulling plugs (on Huawei, academic visas), hopes of lovey-dovey kissing-and-making-up can only fade.
We also observe the moderate voice of reason fading. The standard sensible grownups’ preference for adoring or at least respectful engagement with China is becoming seriously uncool, surprisingly rapidly. In its place, we have a much more rugged and assertive Panda-skepticism. For a bite-size intro to what may be the new consensus, try this.
On a more prosaic note: the Comments function on this site is still out of service
( yay!!! ) – and is apparently much-missed in some quarters (and we call Trump and Xi deluded). Some long-overdue behind-the-scenes techie upgrades are slowly getting underway, so things could change in a few weeks or so.