Center for American Progress

RELEASE: After Several Serious Missteps, Trump Faces High Stakes in First Meeting with Chinese President
Press Release

RELEASE: After Several Serious Missteps, Trump Faces High Stakes in First Meeting with Chinese President

Washington, D.C. — With Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to meet President Donald Trump for the first time tomorrow, the Center for American Progress has released a column laying out the stakes of this first meeting and calling on the White House to show up at Mar-a-Lago with a coherent strategy for dealing with high-priority problem areas.

The Trump administration’s early forays into U.S.-China relations have been less than stellar. Prior to taking office, President Trump undermined his administration’s leverage over Beijing by needlessly challenging China over Taiwan and then walking that challenge back. Now the administration faces a dual challenge: recovering from that early Taiwan fumble and pushing China to change its approach on both North Korea and trade, which are the two highest-priority issues for the United States.

“President Xi comes to this meeting with Trump as a savvy and seasoned negotiator,” said Melanie Hart, Director of China Policy at CAP and author of the column. “Trump, on the other hand, has made several unforced errors in his early interactions with China. President Trump’s biggest challenge at Mar-a-Lago will be convincing President Xi that he is serious about North Korea in a way that he was not serious about Taiwan. What Beijing has learned about Trump thus far is that he is prone to crying wolf, and that makes it much harder to convince China that this administration’s threats should be taken seriously. Luckily, the administration does have access to experienced China experts working across the executive branch; Trump’s performance at this China summit will largely depend on whether he can leverage those voices, ignore opinions from unqualified people around him, and run the plays his best China experts draw up.”

The column outlines several of the high-profile topics the two leaders will most likely discuss when they meet in Florida this week. Among them are the growing threat from North Korea to U.S. allies and even the United States itself; the failing structure of U.S.-China trade and investment relations, which has not worked in U.S. favor for a very long time and requires serious revamping; and the complex mix of cooperation and competition that currently exists between the two nations.

Click here to read the column.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.