Xi urges Trump to cooperate on trade, investment

Members of the Chinese and US delegations at a dinner for Mr Xi Jinping, hosted by Mr Donald Trump, in a private room at the US President's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday.
Members of the Chinese and US delegations at a dinner for Mr Xi Jinping, hosted by Mr Donald Trump, in a private room at the US President's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday.PHOTO: NYTIMES

China, US should move quickly on bilateral investment pact, says Chinese President

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged Mr Donald Trump to cooperate with his country on trade and investment, as they held their first face-to-face meeting in sunny Florida under the shadow of an air strike on Syria ordered by the US President.

"We have a thousand reasons to get China-US relations right, and not one reason to spoil the China-US relationship," Mr Xi told Mr Trump, according to a statement on China's Foreign Ministry website yesterday.

In a cordial start to meetings likely to broach sensitive security and commercial issues, Mr Trump accepted Mr Xi's invitation to visit China later this year, state news agency Xinhua cited officials as saying yesterday.

China's leader said the two superpowers should move quickly on a bilateral investment agreement, according to Xinhua, in order to promote the "healthy development of bilateral trade and investment".

Mr Trump and Mr Xi were expected to get into more detailed discussions about trade and foreign policy yesterday, concluding their summit with a working lunch.

IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP

We have a thousand reasons to get China-US relations right, and not one reason to spoil the China-US relationship.

CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING

The most pressing problem facing the two leaders during their talks, however, is the unpredictable nuclear-armed North Korea, which is developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States. On Twitter , just before Mr Xi's arrival in the US, Mr Trump warned: "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

Even as Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan joined the US President and First Lady Melania Trump for a dinner of pan-seared Dover sole and New York strip steak, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles rained down on Syria's Shayrat Airfield.

Mr Trump ordered the strike in retaliation for the Damascus government's apparent chemical attack on civilians, but it was also taken as evidence that he meant what he said about North Korea.

Yesterday, China said it opposed the use of force in Syria. The Washington Post, however, quoted some China analysts as saying the timing of the attack may actually present Mr Xi with a chance to strike favourable deals with a US leader preoccupied by a crisis. "While Xi would not approve of this, he probably welcomed it as well, as this caused serious distraction on the part of the Trump team, and (Syrian President) Assad has taken on the role of the bad guy that Trump is beating," the Post quoted Professor Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, as saying. "My bet is that he would choose to handle this very diplomatically and use this to make a grand bargain with Trump."

The Chinese media also expressed optimism. The China Daily said that the summit showed the long history and deep ties between the two countries, and that, despite the two leaders' differing leadership styles and vision of the future, there is also a realisation that they share much in common.

"Trump's 'America First' and Xi's overall objective, the peaceful renaissance of the Chinese civilisation, are, in reality, mutually interdependent," it said in an editorial.

"No one, even their closest advisers or confidants, can precisely anticipate how these two psychologies without apparent affinities will relate to each other, but they are at least creating the conditions to be connected by a certain level of personal trust."

The state-linked Global Times likewise sounded a note of cautious optimism, pointing out that while Mr Trump needed a win far more than Mr Xi, both want to be able to declare their first meeting a success.

•Additional reporting by Lim Yan Liang in Beijing

 

Related Stories: 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2017, with the headline 'Xi urges Trump to cooperate on trade, investment'. Print Edition | Subscribe