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What is Donald Trump hoping to achieve with his aggressive trading stance towards China? Does the US president want to end alleged misbehaviour such as intellectual property theft? Or does he hope to stall China’s technological progress altogether?

In his latest column, Martin Wolf offers four suggestions for how China can avoid a trade war with America. First, President Xi Jinping should respond with targeted and limited countermeasures. This can help avoid the dispute spiralling into a full-blown trade war. Second, China needs to address Mr Trump’s legitimate complaints.

Third requires President Xi to offer some concessions — importing liquefied natural gas, for example, which would reduce the trade surplus. And fourth, Martin says China should multilateralise on products like steel that cannot be dealt within a bilateral basis.

The key question is whether Mr Trump’s tough approach can be managed, or whether it will lead to a breakdown in relations. If China takes the longer view, it should act calmly and keep the conversation going.

The Westfield Death Star
Brooke Masters says the Westfield shopping centre in London’s White City throws an unforgiving light on all that is wrong with Britain’s high streets. The Death Star of malls is sucking in business while bricks-and-mortar shops are collapsing.

The power of AGs
James Tierney argues that US state attorneys general are in the vanguard of the anti-Trump fight. They have a knack of inserting themselves into the national debate by suing or challenging the policies put forward by the national government.

What to do about stale males
Michael Skapinker looks at ways of addressing the surplus of older workers in the workplace. Nudging them towards retirement is one solution, another is to introduce a shorter working week. Or companies can offer consulting contracts if older employees decide to leave.

Best of the rest

Cambridge Analytica and a Moral Reckoning in Silicon Valley — David Remnick in The New Yorker

Whatever happened to the Conservatives being the party of the countryside? — Camilla Swift in The Telegraph

Stormy Daniels’s Oh-So-Familiar Story — Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic

People Are Losing Trust in Facebook. Here’s Why They’re Staying On It Anyway. — Will Oremus in Slate

Jeremy Corbyn can’t pretend he has only just noticed — Hugo Rifkind in The Times

What you’ve been saying

Anti-Semitism is unforgivable, Mr Corbyn— letter from Tracy Hofman

My great-grandmother and my two great-aunts died in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1942 and 1944. They have no grave, and I can only trace my family history on my father’s side as far as my grandparents. This is a familiar story for any Jew descended from European Jewry. Anti-Semitism does not cause “ hurt and pain” within the Jewish community: it prompts horror, fear, racing heartbeats, panic-stricken wakefulness in the small hours and considered discussions of emigration. The fact that the Labour party under Mr Corbyn has moved to tolerate and even promote anti-Semitism is unjustifiable.

Comment from Cistercian on Financial markets fail to reflect the eurozone time-bomb in Italy

The Italian problem is rarely diagnosed properly. Italy has had a trade surplus for the past few years, the third highest in the EU in 2016 (compare that to Britain which runs a trade deficit). It has very flexible rules for younger workers, many of whom are on short term and insecure contracts. It also has a high private savings rate, higher than the UK. The problem is it fails to convert the surplus to bring down government debt, or to boost employment. I do not think more structural reforms of the private sector will help, which seems to be Brussels’ only remedy. What is needed is reform of the tax laws to boost government revenue and to redirect some funds to boost employment in the poorer regions.

Incentive is lacking— letter from Michael Romberg

The essential problem with audit is that it is the company that appoints the auditor. Audit committees are not independent enough to invalidate that statement. The problem is similar to that of rating agencies: the firm placing the securities pays for them to be rated and the buyers use the ratings. We know how well that works. Until auditors are appointed by an outside body — a government agency, the stock exchange — their focus will be on pleasing the company, not the reader of the audit report.

Today’s opinion

How China can avoid a trade war with the US
Beijing must recognise the shift in American perceptions and make some concessions

Free Lunch: The world is not flat
Regional inequality is on the rise in most rich economies

FT Alphaville: Guest post — Understanding the differences between German and Italian investment spending

The Westfield Death Star destroys its rivals
Shoppers are spending less on things and making fewer purchases in bricks and mortar stores

How to fix the Big Four auditors
FT readers propose many alternatives to breaking them up

Leadership lessons from Australia’s cheating cricketers
The forces in play when this plan was hatched can affect all organisations

FT View

FT View: GKN debate reflects UK takeover regime’s flaws
Some deals may hurt national interests, but the reasons must be clear

FT View: Australia needs to put cricket in perspective
Ball-tampering by the country’s team should not be considered a national crisis

The Big Read

The Big Read: Brexit threatens an end to Northern Ireland’s era of ‘civility’
Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement, the vote to leave the EU is overturning border arrangements and weakening support for political institutions

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