What Will China and US Get in Trump-Xi Meeting?Posted: March 15, 2017
SCMP says in its report “Politics aside, Trump and Xi could bond as ‘strong men’” today, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday (March 13) the administration was preparing for a meeting between the two leaders but was not ready to announce a date. ‘Planning is ongoing for a visit between President Trump and President Xi at a date to be determined,’ Spicer said.”
SCMP quotes Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying that the two sides had been in close communication over the possibility of a summit and information would be released in a timely manner.
For a summit between two countries, each of the leaders wants to get as much as possible for his own country. That is not an occasion for personal friendship though good personal relations may make it easier for leaders to convincing each other as they are more willing to listen to and think about more carefully each other’s arguments.
However, they certainly will not do anything unfavorable to their national interests.
That is why the fact that both Trump and Xi are strongmen cannot determine the occurrence of the meeting, let alone the results of the meeting.
Putin is much more a strongman than Xi and must be more likely to have a summit with Trump, but there is no prospect of a meeting between them as neither Trump can lift the sanctions for Putin nor Putin can give up Crimea for Trump. Such conflicts cannot be resolved by personal friendship between leaders as they concern their countries’ core interests.
Both Trump and Xi want good relations for their countries’ economy. For Trump, getting China’s concessions on currency and trade is his core interests. Xi can give him as liberalization of Chinese currency and removal government support for enterprises with excessive production capacity are precisely what Xi wants. No matter Trump wants them or not, Xi will do so. US pressure only helps Xi do so.
I have just posted Reuters’ report titled Trump’s USTR nominee pledges tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws”, in which Reuters says “Lighthizer said Beijing’s industrial policies have supported vast amounts of ‘uneconomic’ production capacity that would not survive without state support. He said this was particularly true in the steel and aluminum sectors, leading to the dumping of products into U.S. markets.”
Xi wants to scrap the excessive capacity but has difficulty to overcome vested interests in those industries. US pressure helps him do so.
As for manipulation of Chinese currency, Xi wants to liberalize yuan but sees great risks in doing so. It is good that Trump wants Xi do so. The risks will be reduced substantially with strong US financial support.
As for much exaggerated conflicts between China and the US concerning Taiwan and the South China Sea. They concern China’s core interests but are Trump’s burdens. The US can get nothing from Taiwan and has no interests in the South China Sea but has to incur lots of costs to defend Taiwan and US allies in the South China Sea.
The US can only make some profit by arms sale to Taiwan, but the weapons are not US best ones. As China are now able to make weapons rival to US best weapons the arms sale may not hurt China’s interests. However, the purchase of expensive weapons will only cause shortage of financial resources for Taiwan to improve its economy. In that respect, the US is helping China.
However, the easy concessions that Trump will get from Xi will be Trump’s breakthrough to help him get concessions from other countries. That is why a summit can be arranged only a couple of months after he came into office.
It gives the impression of Trump’s unpredictability as Trump seemed most hostile to China in his election campaign. It is in fact entirely predictable as one thing is perfectly sure: Trump wants to work for US interests. He was hostile to China as he thought that China hurt US interests. He is happy to know now that China has no intention to hurt US interests but, on the contrary, wants win-win cooperation with the US for the benefits of both countries.
Comment on by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2078888/politics-aside-trump-and-xi-could-bond-strong-men