Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Xi-Trump meeting in Beijing to define future China-US ties

Donald Trump arrives in South Korea with wife Melania Image Donald Trump arrives in South Korea with wife Melania
Wilma Wheeler | 09 November, 2017, 01:08

As Trump toured the Forbidden City, his commerce secretary Wilbur Ross joined his Chinese counterpart Wang Yang in Beijing's Great Hall of the People to oversee the signing of $9 billion of deals for everything from Montana beef to water purification equipment.

"We are coming off some of the strongest numbers we've ever had, and he knows that and he respects that", Trump said.

For now, Chu says he is cautiously optimistic about Trump and Xi's personal relationship. "And there's nothing the Chinese do better than wow foreign diplomats", said Mike Chinoy, an expert on East Asia policy at the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California.

Xi and Trump have now met in person twice and spoken by phone nine times, and Trump has even praised Xi as a "very good man."

Lavishing the "imperial treatment" on Trump and giving him the chance to bond with a fellow self-styled political strongman is just one way in which China is dealing with the USA president's potential disruptions to one of the world's most consequential bilateral relationships.

President Trump is visiting five nations across Asia this month in a 13-day trip that includes stops in Japan, South, Korea, and China.

Xi prepared an extravagant "state visit-plus" for Trump, who has softened his strongly anti-China election-era rhetoric since their first meeting at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April.

"Addressing the imbalance in China trade has been the central focus of collaborative discussions between President Trump and President Xi and achieving fair and reciprocal treatment for the companies is a shared objective", Ross said.

"I don't want to embarrass anybody four days before I land in China, but it's frightful", said Trump.

After Beijing, Trump will head to Vietnam and then to the Philippines.

The official said China, Pyongyang's main trading partner, has been exerting its influence but could do more.

USA and Chinese companies on Wednesday signed business deals the two sides valued at $9 billion during a visit by President Donald Trump in a tradition aimed at blunting criticism of Beijing's trade practices.

"I don't think anybody would be able to contain China", Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to Washington, told reporters ahead of Trump's trip.

Despite the friendly personal relations, the Trump administration has recently outlined its vision of a US alliance focusing on what it calls "a free and open Indo-Pacific" region, better known up to now as the Asia-Pacific. At least, he notes, the two countries' presidents "have established a good working relationship".

It will be a delicate balancing act as Trump squeezes China to fully enforce global sanctions and use its substantial leverage against Pyongyang while also trying to convince Xi to correct trade imbalances with the US.

The country has banned Facebook, the world's most popular social media platform, since 2009.

"A read of their [artificial intelligence] strategy shows they've put more thought into this than any other government out there, and they're just getting started".

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