What Team Trump Wants In China
Rex Tillerson is in China for his second visit there as secretary of state. Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund’s Asia program, emails Global Briefing that the North Korean nuclear program, economic disputes, and the inaugural visit from President Trump in November are likely to dominate discussions.
“The Trump administration has narrowed the focus of its exchanges with Beijing to a handful of priorities, and nowadays even issues as crucial as the territorial dispute in the South China Sea no longer feature as prominently in talks. North Korea tops the priority list, and here we should expect Tillerson’s main concern to be sanctions enforcement. China provides Pyongyang’s economic lifeline and the U.S. government sees increased pressure from Beijing as the only viable way of forcing North Korea to change its approach,” Small says.
“This weekend’s meetings will also deal with the style and substance of the presidential visit. The staging of these occasions is rife with symbolism and many of the smallest details need to be negotiated at the highest levels. In the process, the Chinese side will seek greater clarity on how the new administration sees the broader direction of U.S.-China ties. But they are unlikely to get it. The U.S. government is engaged in a wide-ranging review of its China strategy and until it concludes, U.S. cabinet secretaries coming to Beijing are armed with negotiating goals but not — yet — an overall vision for the relationship.”