Xi-Trump Summit: According To The Script

This is what I understand to be the possible elements of a script anticipated on the Chinese side of the Xi-Trump summit.

1. Trump would kick off by asking for the sky from China. Xi and his entourage would remain silent, but flash broad congenial smiles at their host, saying without saying, “You are joking. You are indeed as funny as they say.”

2. Xi would extend an invitation to Trump to visit China (he would not say when). He would say that he looks forward to working closely with the US President and his team (“When are you going to have at least a skeletal team together? We understand it takes time. Oh, this is it? Well, okay, we move forward step by step. We will share what we have with you. We will do it properly, together.”)

3. Trump would tell Xi to go to Jared Kushner and “he will take care of whatever, he will listen, he is smart, his words are as good as mine.” Xi would take the opportunity to praise Jared face-to-face, and ask him to send warm regards to Dr Henry Kissinger on behalf of himself and the Chinese people, the next time he speaks to the old gentleman (which will probably be that evening, if not sooner).

4. During the formal sit-down talks with the full teams from both sides. Xi would spell out China’s views on the principles to be observed in the framework and conduct of US-China relations. He would explain their rationales. He would repeat “no clash, no confrontation, mutual respect, win-win cooperation” amid mention of China’s focus on development, peaceful coexistence, dialogue and negotiation to resolve differences … etc.

5. On specific issues raised by Trump, Xi would state China’s positions and the reasons for them. He would enumerate facts and figures and perspectives that would fill out the complexion and analytical angles that might otherwise be missed, and that could lead to the wrong approaches and bad consequences. The bottom line is:China will work with the US in earnest, jointly to do all the necessary homework. Xi would say to Trump that he is equally result-oriented, but it must be something that works for both sides. He would say that he believes that will happen, but hard work is necessary.

6. When the two heads-of-states go on their private one-on-one stroll while the teams work on the final version of a joint statement, Xi would find the opportunity to explain some Chinese history and culture to Trump (Phrump…). Just when Trump would have had enough, Xi would change the subject to explain Japanese militarism. He would point out its perverse nature and many dangerous signs of its rapid pace of revival, particularly after Trump came into office. They would discuss specifics.

7. Not having gotten much out of the Chinese, and with time running out, Trump would want “bottom line answers” at this point. The two would quickly exchange views on current world leaders, on major world issues, and the critical issues between the two countries(most urgently and strategically, North Korea, THAAD, Taiwan;secondarily, South China Sea, terrorism, Syria). On trade, investment and currency issues, the two sides would have agreed at the formal sit-down meetings to set up tasks forces to work on details (meaning Trump would not have extracted any specific concessions out of the Chinese yet). During the private walk, Trump would ask Xi if there is anything at all China could “give” him now so that he can announce to the public (to save face and to put on a good show). Xi would probably give Trump something, to announce anyway. The two would coordinate some of their statements, if there is going to be a press conference.

8. Trump would naturally want a close personal relationship with Xi. Particularly, he would find Xi’s encyclopedic knowledge of current and past leaders and statesmen of the world to be a tremendous source of reference. He would discover at closer range the quality and experience of the Chinese foreign policy and economic teams, the continuity product of over eighty-year accumulation of superb skills, knowledge and massive global networks established by Zhou Enlai, and grew since. He would wish to hire some of them (a joke). He would tell Jared afterwards: “Stay close to the Chinese”. Jared would reply:“Kissinger told me that already”.

9. If the circumstances seem right during the private one-on-one sessions, either Xi or Trump would broach the various subjects of how China works. Xi would also explain the thinking and anticipated mechanics on the One Belt One Road initiatives and the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB). He would invite America to join. Trump would say he would seriously study them (but where and when will he find people to do that?) Trump would try to sell some of his “ideas” to Xi. Xi would politely respond, giving Trump-the-businessman an idea of what might be worth pursuing and what to “forget about”.

10. Trump would come away with a tremendous respect for Xi, marvelling at his intellect, decisive determination and practical acumen. Xi would want a Donald Trump who trusts him and trusts China, and willing to work with the Chinese team across a full spectrum, and buckled down to do serious and solid homework.

Summits never go perfectly according to the script. The above may be one from the Chinese perspective. From the American side, I noticed from the White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s pre-summit PR interviews that his spin was that one of the key outcome from the meeting will be a forward roadmap for US-China relations. Okay.


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