Syria Takes Shine Off Trump-Xi Summit
Chinese and American leaders have held many summits since U.S. President Richard Nixon landed in Beijing in February 1972. Most of these summits produced results that improved or stabilized bilateral relations.
The just-concluded talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, was a decidedly mixed affair despite the high stakes involved. On the positive side, both did their best to appear friendly. But the meeting produced no specific agreements on a host of contentious issues between the two countries.
On the eve of the summit, held April 6-7 at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Florida resort, America's tweeter-in-chief warned that his meeting with Xi would be "very difficult" because of the country's "massive trade deficits" with China. While it is impossible to know why Trump decided to signal the likely failure of arguably his most important summit since taking office, Trump's tweet inevitably cast a dark shadow over the event.
Even before Trump's hint of potential trouble ahead, the underlying dynamics in U.S.-China relations were worrisome. Trump has never been shy about singling out China for its assorted "sins," such as calling climate change a "hoax" concocted by China, and blaming Beijing for currency manipulation to maintain unfair trade advantages and causing America's manufacturing decline. He even raised the frightening prospect of ending Washington's long-held "One China" policy, a stance he later abandoned by affirming this policy in a call with Xi in early February.