These are the priorities that both sides should be prepared to address.
SINGAPORE ― Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will hold their first face-to-face meeting on Thursday and Friday at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s seaside golf club in Florida. This is unquestionably a good thing ― as anytime the leaders of these two major global powers meet in person, it sends reassuring signals to a nervous world. In this instance, the uncertainties and nervousness have been particularly pronounced across the Asia-Pacific region, in both countries and in global markets since Trump’s election. The stakes are high ― but so is the opportunity to stabilize relations and set a positive tone for future interactions.
This will be Trump’s first big test in major-power diplomacy. He has not done particularly well in reassuring European leaders, although his meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went much better. How Trump handles his meetings with Xi may also provide some indications of how he will deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin in due course.
Xi and the Chinese side will come to the summit extremely well prepared on a wide range of complex issues confronting the two governments. The question is: how well prepared will the new American president be? China will be taking Trump’s measure: How sincere is he? Can he be trusted? Does he understand the complexities of the issues? Does he genuinely recognize and respect China’s “core interests”? Will Trump accord Xi appropriate symbolic respect? What is Trump willing to give in order to get what he wants from Beijing? Indeed, what does he want from China? The Chinese side will be listening carefully to Trump’s words, and the onus will be on him to provide these reassurances.
On the American side, Trump is likely to be myopically focused on three issues: the American economy, North Korea and the war against the so-called Islamic State, in that order. Other issues are tangential for Trump. If Xi is wise (and he is), he will anticipate these priorities and will bring with him significant gestures in each instance.
Taking a page out of Abe’s playbook ― he visited Mar-a-Lago in February and promised $50 billion in infrastructure investment to create 50,000 American jobs ― Xi should bring a package of large investments for rebuilding American infrastructure and the industrial economy. He should also come prepared to provide new and concrete measures to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs ― more finessed fudging by Beijing on this issue will not suffice and has the real potential to alienate Trump, which could have a negative collateral impact on other issues on the bilateral agenda. It is high time for China to get off the fence and take concrete actions to control the destabilizing and dangerous behavior of Kim 3.0 (North Korean leader Kim Jong-un). And Beijing is also overdue to contribute tangibly to taking down ISIS and helping to stabilize the Middle East.
If Xi anticipates these “asks” and comes prepared to concretely address all three ― each of which is also in China’s own national interests ― then Trump will see China as a friend instead of a foe (and Trump is prone to such simplistic judgments). Xi would also do well to offer some concrete steps to address the growing obstacles and discrimination that American and other foreign multinational firms have been encountering in China in recent years.
For China’s part, Trump has already provided three things it craves: reaffirmation of the One China policy, no unilateral punitive economic measures and the symbolic “face” accorded to Xi as a world leader.
But, to be sure, China wants more … much more. Beijing wants to halt a pending large arms sales package to Taiwan. It wants a cancellation of the deployment to South Korea of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. It wants an end to American naval patrols near China’s coast and its occupied islands in the South China Sea and an end to U.S. aerial reconnaissance flights along its coastline. It wants the U.S. to not contest its claims in the South China Sea. It wants an end to what it perceives to be American efforts to subvert the Chinese regime. It wants U.S. neutrality on China’s conflicting claims with Japan in the East China Sea. It wants Washington to shun the Dalai Lama. And it wants substantial relaxation of controls on Chinese investments into the U.S., as well as technology transfers by American firms to China.
Xi is quite unlikely to gain these concessions from Trump ― but summit-watchers should be on the lookout for tradeoffs, quid pro quos or “grand bargains” over these issues. One summit meeting will surely not resolve the long litany of contentious issues that divide the two sides, yet it is hoped that some progress can be made.
- What Trump And Xi Can Learn From The Athens Vs. Sparta Rivalry
- Iran’s ‘Deep State’ Could Unseat Rouhani With A Khamenei-Backed Hard-Liner In Upcoming Elections
- If Trump Wants To Convince Us He Cares About Women, He Should Stop Using Them As Pawns
- A Self-Inflicted Wound In Hungary
- Is Trump Going Soft On China?
- Trump And Xi Can Reach Mutually Agreeable Solutions On North Korea And Trade
- We Need An Independent Investigation Into Trump's Russia Ties
- Can Policy Polling Be Trusted?
- Syrian Father Lays His Twin Babies To Rest After Chemical Weapons Attack
- Ahead Of Its Election, France Is Deeply Fragmented, Its People Often Angry and Scared
- While Washington Investigates Russian Meddling, Moscow Is Expanding Its Global Influence
- Aid Workers In 4 Countries Facing Famine Warn Trump's Cuts Could Cost Lives
You might also like
- Trump blames GOP conservative faction for blocking healthcare bill
- Failure of their healthcare bill leaves Republicans running Obamacare. That could open the way for bipartisan changes
- Obamacare 101: 4 things you need to know about 'essential health' benefits
- Trump's awkward alliance with Ryan faces biggest test. Will healthcare vote bind or push them apart?
- Doctors and patient advocates sound louder warnings as Trump and GOP push Obamacare repeal
- Obamacare repeal threatens health programs just as they're starting to work
- Under fire over Russia investigation, White House officials choose to change the subject
- In a bid to get votes, House Republicans prepare changes to their bill rolling back Obamacare
- Senate battle over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has been relatively mild, but that's about to change
- Paul Ryan's make-or-break moment on Obamacare will test his power, legacy and relationship with Trump
- IFC swings for the comedy fences with Funny or Die's 'Brockmire'
- MGM to spend $1 billion for full control of the Epix movie service
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Israeli prime minister talks of a snap election amid concerns over a new public broadcaster
- U.S. condemns suspected Syrian chemical attack on civilians, but says the Assad government is a 'political reality'
- Canada's largest school board will end class trips to the U.S. due to Trump's travel restrictions
- Warplanes strike Syrian town already hit by chemical attack
- Vigilantes prowl Europe's border with a target: Muslim migrants
- A letter from Britain to the European Union will trigger the 'Brexit' process March 29
- Ukraine president suggests a Kremlin-orchestrated attack after former Russian lawmaker is shot dead in Kiev
- Russian officials say St. Petersburg subway blast killed at least 11 and injured dozens
- As death toll in hospital attack soars to 50, Afghanistan investigates whether it was an inside job
- South Korea's ousted leader moves out of palace, apologizes for 'not fulfilling my duties'
- A brazen political killing shakes Myanmar, already teetering on the path to democracy
- India's Narendra Modi leads his party to victory in a state with more than 200 million people
- A controversial Thai monk is wanted in connection with a fraud case. His followers won't give him up
- Another Dalit suicide on campus raises fears of a crisis of discrimination at Indian universities
- Syrian government insists it does not use chemical weapons; US vows serious response to attack
- Bodies of U.N. workers and interpreter found in Congo, prompting calls for investigation
- Hamas hangs 3 Palestinians in Gaza it says were collaborating with Israel
- Basque group ETA hands over weapons, ammunition and explosives to France
- Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as 'dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law'