"He wants them to suffer more": Inside Trump's China bet

Between the lines: “Trump is thinking about this meeting as a personal reconnection with President Xi, not a meeting that’s going to evolve into detailed discussions,” said a source familiar with Trump’s thinking. “The sides are very far apart. … Right now, there’s not the common basis for proceeding.”

Trump isn’t focused on the details of a potential China deal. He’s focused on creating more leverage, according to another source who recently discussed the U.S.-China standoff with the president.

Behind the scenes: Trump has privately boasted that his China tariffs have driven down the country’s stock market. Experts say the trade war has hurt market sentiment, but the stock market has never been a reliable barometer of Chinese economic strength.

The generic point Trump makes to aides, per a source with direct knowledge: “‘We are strong and they are weak.’ … He believes more pressure will bring them to the table to make a deal.”

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