'No firm date yet' for Xi-Trump meeting

China has not confirmed or denied news that Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, President Donald Trump, will be meeting informally early next month at the latter's club in Florida.

A Chinese analyst said such a meeting will not give both sides sufficient time to prepare for it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters yesterday that both sides are in close communication over the two leaders' meeting and that "if there is further information, we will release it in timely fashion".

On Monday, US news website Axios reported that the meeting, the first between the two men, will take place on April 6-7 at Mr Trump's Mar-a- Largo resort in Florida.

Sources whom The Straits Times spoke to said it was Beijing's request to have the summit held at what is known as Mr Trump's "Winter White House", where the US leader entertained Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that preparation was being made for a meeting "at a date to be determined".

Professor Jia Qingguo of Peking University said that while the leaders should meet as soon as possible, an early April date will mean "no time for ample preparation".

Analysts agreed that the meeting between the leaders of the world's two biggest economies is an important one that will set the tone for their countries' relationship.

"China will be eager to deliver a gift package of investments and jobs. They will please President Trump. The question is, what will China want in return?" said Ms Yun Sun, a fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington, DC.

•Additional reporting by Nirmal Ghosh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline ''No firm date yet' for Xi-Trump meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe