Trump, Xi agree to work together on trade and N. Korea

US President Donald Trump meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last Saturday.
US President Donald Trump meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

US leader takes conciliatory tone, calling Chinese counterpart a friend

HAMBURG • US President Donald Trump took a conciliatory tone in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the leaders agreed to keep working on two pressing issues: the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and bilateral trade irritants.

Mr Trump lately expressed impatience over China's role in North Korea, particularly after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile last week that some experts believe could reach Alaska and parts of the US West Coast.

His administration made new arms sales to Taiwan, imposed sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company, put China on a global human trafficking list, and accused a Chinese bank of laundering money for Pyongyang.

The White House is also debating trade actions against Beijing, including tariffs on its steel exports.

A few days before the Group of 20 (G-20) talks, Mr Trump complained that trade between China and North Korea had grown. But he showed none of that impatience last Saturday, when the leaders met at the invitation of Mr Xi at the tail end of the G-20 summit in Germany.

"It's an honour to have you as a friend," Mr Trump told Mr Xi, saying he appreciated actions the Chinese leader has taken on North Korea.


He added: "As far as North Korea is concerned, we will have, eventually, success. It may take longer than I'd like. It may take longer than you'd like. But there will be success in the end one way or the other."

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later said on Air Force One that the Trump-Xi meeting lasted over 11/2 hours, and they had "substantive discussions" about how to deal with North Korea together.

"With regard to China, we had very direct discussions about North Korea. We had very direct discussions about military and security cooperation," Mr Mnuchin said. "I think that President Trump made very clear to President Xi that he is focused on this issue, and wants to move forward and make progress."

For his part, Mr Xi told Mr Trump that stronger China-US ties were conducive to stability and prosperity amid global conflicts, and they made "new progress" in some areas "despite some sensitive issues", said state news agency Xinhua.

Mr Xi stressed the importance of talks with North Korea, and said China's navy will join US-led Pacific Rim military exercises next year.

Mr Xi stressed to Mr Trump China's position that it adheres to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and maintaining peace and stability there, reported Xinhua.

While China has been angered by North Korea's repeated nuclear and missile tests, it also blames the US and South Korea for worsening tensions with their military exercises.

Mr Xi reiterated China's opposition to the US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence anti-missile system in South Korea, Xinhua said.


"This is China holding the ground on the North Korean issue and also a show of confidence that China-US relations are so deeply entwined and mutually dependent that they won't be easily derailed by North Korea," said Professor Jia Qingguo, Peking University's diplomacy department dean and a foreign affairs adviser to the government. "It's an important element in this multi-layered relationship, but it's still a leaf, however big it is, not the forest."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday said Mr Xi and Mr Trump "enhanced mutual understanding" on North Korea and "confirmed the broad direction of using peaceful means to resolve this issue".

Mr Trump did mention trade imbalances in his meeting with Mr Xi, calling it a "very, very big issue" he would address. Senior officials from both countries will meet in Washington on July 19 to discuss economic and trade issues.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Trump, Xi agree to work together on trade and N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe