TrumpWatch, Day 293: Trump Absolves China, Blames US Over Trade

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump review the guard of honor in front of the East Gate of the Great Hall of the People, November 8, 2017 (Xu Jingxing/China Daily]

Trump to Xi: “My feeling toward you is incredibly warm”

Developments on Day 290 of the Trump Administration:

In a sharp contrast with his campaign rhetoric where he assailed China for “raping our country”, Donald Trump has lavished praise on Chinese leader Xi Jinping and blamed the US for the trade imbalance between the two countries.

Speaking in Beijing alongside Xi, Trump spoke of the “great chemistry” between them. He said the US trade relationship with the Chinese is “a very one-sided and unfair one” but continued:

I don’t blame China. Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.

Instead he took a general swipe at his predecessors and contemporaries in Washington, “We’ve gotten so far behind on trade with China and frankly many other countries,” and said the US must “change its policies” without giving any details. He addressed Xi:

We’ll make it fair, and it’ll be tremendous for both of us. My feeling toward you is incredibly warm. We have great chemistry. I think we’ll do tremendous things, China and the US.

He and Xi said memoranda of understanding to increase trade by $253 billion were a sign of greater cooperation.

Trump has occasionally returned to the trade issue on Twitter since his inauguration January and has periodically assailed China for not doing enough to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs. However, his general attitude was reshaped in April when Xi used a visit to Trump’s Florida resort to flatter the President.

Two weeks Trump hailed the endorsement of Xi’s leadership by a Communist Party Congress:

Xi was more reserved and careful in his language about “win-win” cooperation and a “new starting point” for the bilateral relationship, phrases used by Beijing to encourage the US to accept a Chinese “sphere of influence” in Asia without American interference.

The Chinese leader made no personal remarks about Trump.

Before the press conference, China displayed great efforts to play to Trump’s love of ceremony and being praised. After a military parade and a reception at the Great Hall of the People, Trump said, “I already had people calling from all parts of the world. They were watching. Nothing you can see is so beautiful.”

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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