Xi, Trump Emerge Upbeat after Get-Acquainted Talks in Florida

President Trump wrapped up his meetings with China's leader Xi Jinping on Friday, a crucial test of diplomacy that was largely overshadowed by Thursday's military action.

Trump was meeting again with his Chinese counterpart Friday, with USA missile strikes on Syria adding weight to his threat to act unilaterally against the nuclear weapons program of China's ally, North Korea.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said that the two sides agreed to a "100-day plan" aimed at increasing USA exports to China and reducing the trade deficit with the country.

In an outcome likely to play well in China, state news agency Xinhua said that US and Chinese officials initiated new dialogue mechanisms on economic issues, as well as security and diplomatic issues, in what appeared to be a reimagining of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue held under President Barack Obama. After defeats on his travel ban and the Obamacare repeal, Trump wants to show progress countering North Korea's nuclear threat and opening Chinese markets to more U.S. goods in an effort to create jobs.

These American strikes in Syria came as President Trump, as we have reported, was hosting the president of China for their first summit - the chief issues, North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and trade between the world's top two economies.

But China's leaders are still trying to figure out Trump, and his quick decision to strike Syria may cause them to reconsider that assumption.

Trump's comments after two days of meetings with Xi at Trump's Spanish-style Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida were upbeat, in sharp contrast to the tough anti-China rhetoric of his 2016 election campaign, which threatened tariffs and other punitive trade measures.

The bonhomie extended behind closed doors, where the U.S. president's grandson and granddaughter sang a traditional Chinese ballad - "Jasmine Flower" - and recited poetry for their honored guests, according to Chinese state media.

The official China Daily newspaper said it was encouraging to see the two-day summit that ended on Friday "going as well as it could", after earlier "confusing signals" from Washington about how it was approaching the U.S.

The widely anticipated meeting of the leaders of the world's two largest economies was largely overshadowed by the US missile strikes at Syria.

Trump said the United States is willing to further strengthen cooperation with China in economy, military affairs and people-to-people exchanges and support China's efforts in hunting for fugitives and recovering illicit money.

"He now has an opportunity to reboot with the American people", Senator John McCain said, "at least as far as national security is concerned".

Xi reciprocated Trump s warm words, saying the summit had "uniquely important significance" and thanking Trump for a warm reception.

Wang Dong, Associate Professor of International Studies at China's elite Peking University, said the move may have had the added bonus in Trump's eyes of sending North Korea a message over its nuclear program, but that China was unlikely to be fazed.

China says that its leverage in North Korea is limited, and that Kim's regime is pursuing nuclear weapons to deter threats of a United States invasion.

First lady Melania Trump and Peng Liyuan (puhng LEE'-yoo-en), the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng), visited a seventh-grade civics class at a Florida middle school.

Since he was on the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly criticized what he sees as China's unfair trade practices and its reluctance to exercise its economic leverage over North Korea to curtail Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. "President Trump evaluated the facts, that the attacks occurred on his watch, and [as he] reflected upon prior responses or lack of responses, he came to the conclusion that we can not yet again turn away, turn a blind eye from what's happened". North Korea has repeatedly tested nuclear weapons in recent years, a move that the USA strongly opposes.

The north-east area of China where Jin teaches has become increasingly fearful of radiation leaks from North Korea's nuclear operations.

"For President Xi, this will be embarrassing internationally because in so many settings and so many venues China has condemned the United States for unilateral military action in the past, and this is certainly a unilateral action, " he said.

Another effect for China of the Syrian attack could be an increase in the disaffection for North Korea among the population, and among those in the government and think tanks that consider the North a strategic liability.

Citing multiple top-ranking intelligence and military officials, NBC News stated that "on the military side... the three options with the highest impact still constitute the next steps".

The friendly banter between the leaders belied growing tension in the relationship after Trump's public criticisms of China and his promises to extract concessions from the country on trade and North Korea.

  • Leroy Wright