The Mar-A-Lago Meeting

The scheduled meeting between the American President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will be the first face-to-face meeting between Xi and Trump. The meeting will run from April 4th to April 6th at Trump’s private mansion at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where Trump also hosted his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Given Trump’s complex history with the PRC, from his campaign rhetoric to his Chinese investments to geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific, the meeting will hopefully shed light on Trumps Asia policies and provide some much-needed predictability to Trump’s strategy for China.

While the prospect of military confrontation between the United States and China has somewhat subsided following Trump’s phone call with Xi in February, the prospect of economic and trade war has not subsided. Trump caused tension prior to the meeting by tweeting that: “The next meeting with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits.” China continues to be listed as a currency manipulator by the U.S. and Trump has repeatedly threatened to take action on perceived Chinese economic manipulations that he claims are taking away American jobs and causing America’s infamous trade deficit.

For its part, the Chinese side has tried to strike a more positive tone. Chinese spokesman, Lu Kang, at the announcement of the press conference tried to frame the Sino-American relationship as one of a win-win relationship. Lu claims that the Sino-American trade has created 2.6 million jobs within America’s export sector and has called on the United States to increase its exports to China. Lu also alleged that China is not seeking to pursue a trade surplus with the U.S. and that a significant proportion of the trade deficit is caused by American companies that have set up subsidiaries in China. Lu also declared that China and the U.S. should work to enlarge the economic pie, not fighting over the division.

Other than economics, another potential points that analysists agree will be touched on is the increasingly volatile security situation in the Asia-Pacific. One of the most likely potential topics is North Korea, which is demonstrating increasing unpredictability. Another major topic is the friction between the two major regional powers in the South China Sea. Many American analysists are worried that Trump, due to his lack of experience and personality, will potentially commit another diplomatic gaffe that might throw an additional curveball into the Sino-American relationship, such as by resurrecting the “One-China Policy Debacle” earlier this year. With that said, Chinese think tanks, by comparison, recommend a more stable relationship that is cooperative and has avoided pessimistic predictions on the results of the meeting.

Hanyu Huang