Trump presses China on NKorea; another bluff could hurt him

Henrietta Brewer
April 6, 2017

US-China relations are considered critical for Australia.

The President has already bowed to Chinese demands that he agree to abide by the "One China" policy, after he suggested he could use the status of USA relations with Taiwan as a bargaining chip in trade talks with Beijing. Xi has a highly scripted style, and the Chinese are accustomed to meetings that are tightly choreographed.

Although U.S. officials said the launch was a failure and didn't threaten North America, it underscored North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's intent to advance his weaponry in defiance of global law. For the Chinese, the atmospherics of the talks will be as important as the substance. Areas where excess industrial production capacity is being cut can also receive more support, the nation's flagship English-language newspaper said. "Success is very important".

"Well be talking about, of course, North Korea".

The spiraling crisis regarding North Korea should make it a key issue to discuss, and Trump is right that Beijing must be more aggressive in pressing Pyongyang on nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. "I don't want to say it's posturing, but all of this is an effort to induce more out of China", said Jonathan Pollack, fellow at the Brookings Institution and expert on North Korea and Chinese security strategy.

Yet should Trump come out with guns blazing on issues like the economy and China's failure to do more to rein in North Korea, Xi will also be under pressure to respond in kind, making the mood of the summit hard to predict.

Xi also won't be following in Abe's footsteps by playing golf with Trump.

Adding to tensions were signs last week in North Korea of intensified activities at its Punggye-ri underground test site. "China respects the USA side's arrangements", she said.

Moreover, the senators said a recent lawsuit filed against Chinese steel producers also raises more disturbing allegations such as illegal conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes; the theft of trade secrets by industrial espionage; and the circumvention of hard-won duties ordered by the International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce by false labeling and transshipment.

Currency issues are at the top of the list after Trump told the Financial Times earlier this week (paywall) that China remained a "world champion" at currency manipulation.

China is hoping that Trump's sun-kissed beach club - beloved of realtors and Rotarians - while an unlikely setting for a superpower summit, will help build rapport.

On the eve of the scheduled vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, an American economist, Eswar Prasad, said he dropped in on Chinese colleagues who were gaming out Xi's economic proposals for Florida. For example, they knew exactly how many votes the Freedom Caucus had mustered, he said.

The comments suggest any immediate trade war is off the table until Mr Trump formulates his China policy, in a welcome reprieve for markets fixated on a possible Wasington-Beijing trade blow up. Trump instead suffered a major legislative defeat.

This is again a matter in which the Obama administration allowed China to show too much assertiveness, Fleitz noted. They think Trump is smarter than he seems.

"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored", Cossa said. "Trump is very proud of that, and President Xi will be interested in seeing all of that".

The real danger is that Mr Trump's China policies are likely to be counterproductive, damaging America's prosperity and endangering its security, while hastening the rise of China.

Nevertheless, Trump chose Jared Kushner as the man to get this job done.

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