Xi-Trump Meeting


This Thursday, Xi Jingping and Donald Trump will meet for the first time.  Usually, meetings between US and Chinese heads-of-state require a long period of time to prepare.  This will probably go down in history as one that takes place under rather bizarre circumstances, but it may end up being quite significant.

Bizarre Circumstances
(1) Trump’s hold onto power is fragile — he may not last six to eighteen months.
(2) Trump’s team is incomplete — he fired many of the people who would normally work on these things in the State Department and has yet to fill many positions; the Chinese cannot find adequate counterparts to work with at this stage.
(3) Trump’s policies are still a work-in-process — some essential details are non-existent, and the main directions are still shifty.
All of the above would normally mean a face-to-face meeting is premature.  But –
(4) Trump is hurtling down the warpath on North Korea.

Why Would Xi Want To Meet Trump?
(a) To contain the dangers mounting in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
(b) To set the direction of US-China relations.
(c) To lay some foundation stones upon which to build win-win cooperation with whoever may head the US administration in the future.
(d) To quickly assess Trump’s mental and emotional aptitude, first-hand and personally. (I am not kidding).

Potential Hot Topics And Hot Flashes
(i)  Suspension of escalating belligerent posturing in the Korean Peninsula.
(ii) THAAD and anti-THAAD measures.
(iii)Trade, investment and currency issues, preliminarily.

Potential Significant Results
(A) China will give the under-prepared Trump administration a guiding hand to “get it right” on the biggest issue in the world, US-China cooperation.
(B) The two sides will hopefully prepare to begin discussions on the sensitive strategic issues such as those laid out in Section 5 of my Roadmap on US-China Relations.
(C) In particular, a continuing dialogue on THAAD will hopefully lead to a framework for comprehensive discussions on arms development protocols and transfinite warfare activities.

Minimum Objectives
(I) Buy time for the resumption of talks on the Korean Peninsula and, failing which, spell out mutually-acceptable and (hopefully) coordinated objectives, if military options are activated by the US. Neither the US nor China wants to clash with each other directly, but that needs meticulous planning under the current scenario.
(II)Establish the mechanics for quick and close communication to avert major strategic and tactical miscalculation by any of the parties involved.
(III)Warn Trump about Japan’s motives and machinations, and the dangers of development in Taiwan.
(IV)Mutually affirm the overall principles in the New Form of Big Nations’ Relations of “No Clash, No Confrontation, Mutual Respect and Win-win Cooperation”.
(V) Proceed with an intensified Strategic and Economic Dialogue process.

Frankly, war on the Korean Peninsula is just a whisker away.  Once military action starts, the Pandora Box is opened and multiple factors will come into play.  Chain reactions will be triggered.  Miscalculations and preemptive actions will be hard to avoid.  They will compound the scale of the conflict and chaos. The fact that the US and China are seeking to discuss matters, at the highest level before the outbreak of hostility, will hopefully help establish common expectation and ground for managing the fallouts and aftermaths.  A war is easy to start but difficult to bring to an end.

The US military and related industrial complex have been starving for another war.  It is a reality recognized by China.  Donald Trump may need to gamble at this stage for his political survival.  That is also understood by the Chinese side.  Xi Jingping knows that he must manage a potentially dangerous adventure by the US in front of China’s doorstep.  He will do that firmly and with fullness of force, and be proactive.  He is trying to not allow even a war in the Korean Peninsula wreck US-China cooperative partnership.  Trump or no Trump.


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