China Lavishes Red-Carpet Treatment On Trump As He Arrives For Talks With Xi Jinping : Parallels : NPR


China’s President Xi Jinping and his spouse Peng Liyuan hosted President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump throughout a tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing on Wednesday, as Trump started the third leg of his Asian tour.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

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Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

China’s President Xi Jinping and his spouse Peng Liyuan hosted President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump throughout a tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing on Wednesday, as Trump started the third leg of his Asian tour.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

As the solar went down Wednesday on the vermilion partitions and yellow tile roofs of Beijing’s Forbidden City, the primary households of the U.S. and China took in a Peking opera efficiency within the palace the place China’s emperors lived for almost six centuries.

It was the beginning of what China’s ambbadador to the U.S. calls a “state visit plus” – a extremely choreographed mix of stagecraft and statecraft, designed to spotlight the evolving chemistry between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping.

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“China is receiving Trump almost the way the King of Saudi Arabia did,” observes Shi Yinhong, a global relations skilled at People’s University in Beijing. China is “giving Trump lots of face, vanities and protocol.”

Lavishing the “imperial treatment” on Trump and giving him the prospect to bond with a fellow self-styled political strongman is only one approach wherein China is coping with the U.S. president’s potential disruptions to one of many world’s most consequential bilateral relationships.

“I think we can say that so far, our measures have been relatively successful,” feedback Wu Xinbo with the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. At least, he notes, the 2 international locations’ presidents “have established a good working relationship.”

That relationship didn’t get off to a easy begin. Trump threatened to improve relations with Taiwan, upending many years of the so-called “One China” coverage. He additionally threatened to punish China for manipulating the worth of its foreign money. But to this point, none of that has occurred.

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Cui Liru of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a authorities badume tank in Beijing, says that China dealt with these challenges the appropriate approach — by doing nothing in any respect.

“China had to realize that Trump needed to learn about China,” he says, “and during this learning process, we had to stay cool and patient.”

Cui says China judged that Trump was not likely excited about altering the established order amongst China, the U.S. and Taiwan. He merely needed to make use of Taiwan as a bargaining chip to get higher phrases of commerce with China.

On the foreign money manipulation concern, Cui says, it was only a matter of apprising Trump of the extensively accepted incontrovertible fact that China was propping up the worth of its foreign money, not miserable it.

Cui says one other factor China needed to do was “find a channel through which to communicate with Trump.”

They discovered one such channel in his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who helped prepare an April summit between Xi and Trump at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida.

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That channel has apparently outlived its usefulness, as Kushner got here beneath investigation within the Russian affect scandal and labor activists alleged abuses at a Chinese shoe manufacturing facility making footwear for Ivanka’s style label.

Xi and Trump have now met in particular person twice and spoken by telephone 9 instances, and Trump has even praised Xi as a “very good man.”

But Fudan University’s Wu says Beijing continues to be uncertain about whom to speak to in Washington.

“We still don’t know who’s involved in making China policy,” he says. “Take Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for example. It seems like he’s not in the loop, or at least not in the inner circle.”

Meanwhile, Beijing has made some concessions to Trump on commerce — for instance, growing imports from the U.S. But Tsinghua University professor Chu Shulong argues that these had been issues China needed anyway.

“China needs to import U.S. agricultural goods, airplanes and other products,” he says. “China would also like to import some hi-tech items, but the U.S. doesn’t want to sell us those.”

Chu factors out that each U.S. administration in current many years has complained about China’s commerce surplus, violation of mental property and lack of market entry.

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“It’s just that Trump uses somewhat stronger words,” he says.

Since Trump took workplace, China has additionally tightened sanctions on North Korea, particularly squeezing vitality, banking and labor exchanges with its neighbor.

And that, says People’s University’s Shi Yinhong, is about as a lot as China can or is keen to do for now.

“China has nearly exhausted its leverage over North Korea,” he says, “and the North is becoming increasingly hostile towards us.”

Despite the pleasant private relations, the Trump administration has not too long ago outlined its imaginative and prescient of a U.S. alliance specializing in what it calls “a free and open Indo-Pacific” area — the area higher identified to this point because the Asia-Pacific.

To China, that feels like a repackaged Cold War-era coverage to include it.

Meanwhile, Tsinghua University’s Chu notes that the U.S. and Chinese navies are bumping into one another with growing frequency in contested waters of the South China Sea.

In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. spy airplane, ensuing within the loss of life of the Chinese pilot and the detention of an American crew. Since then, the 2 sides have labored out protocols to maintain such encounters from spiraling into one other confrontation or disaster, however Chu nonetheless worries.

“Who knows when the two countries’ warships might get too close or collide,” he says, “or make some sort of miscalculation?”

For now, Chu says he is cautiously optimistic about Trump and Xi’s private relationship.

“But this could all change,” he cautions. “Leaders have to put the national interest and their own agenda first, and not personal relationships.”

Chu factors out that President Obama began out fairly bullish on China, however by his second time period, he’d largely soured on it. And Trump himself has at instances additionally expressed disappointment with China.

People’s University’s Shi is much more pessimistic. He predicts all of the diplomatic niceties and chummy environment may merely evaporate in about two or three months’ time.

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