U.S. President Donald Trump has just begun his three-day stay in the world’s most populous nation. Will his presence in China help bilateral cooperation in light of Trump’s earlier comments about the PRC and its relationship with the United States?
In the past, President Trump has commented several times on China, and his comments cover everything from effusive praise of President Xi Jinping to outright attacking the nation and its policies and practices.
Today, Trump is on a mission to gain cooperation, not only on the matter of North Korea, which is bound to be at the top of his priority list, but also on matters of trade.
Several remarks by Secretary Rex Tillerson last month have also straddled a wide spectrum of adjectives ranging from strongly critical to effusively laudatory.
He’s talked about China rising alongside India, but less responsibly so; he’s talked about the PRC’s provocative actions in the South China Sea; he’s even commented on China’s unsound infrastructure policies leading to mounting debt.
On the other hand, he has also recognized that hundreds of millions of people have moved out of poverty into the middle class; he’s spoken about China’s “rightful place as an economic power in the world.”
But Trump’s visit is critical to several aspects of trade and global security. The North Korea issue and China’s response to it conflicts with its own practices in the South China Sea. Its policies on trade, as well as laws around foreign companies operating inside the country leave a lot to be desired.
America has problems of its own. It needs to address major challenges to its economy, such as generating more jobs and restoring its manufacturing industry.
What both countries need at this point is stability at multiple levels. They need stability at home, in their region and internationally. And they need stability of economy as well. That’s the only way both powers can grow.
With respect to the matter of the Korean Peninsula, both the U.S. and China need a diplomatic solution that will allow them to move forward with their respective agendas.
The next three days will be a vital time for both nations, as their leaders hammer out various issues. For Trump, his three-point mandate of shrinking the trade deficit, improving the nation’s infrastructure and fostering a 3-percent growth rate are all that should matter.