Trump sees ‘very difficult’ meeting with Xi Jinping

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 7:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 11:11am

President Donald Trump is predicting “a very difficult” meeting next week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, citing trade deficits and lost jobs.

Hours after both governments announced an April 6-7 summit between the economic powerhouses in Florida, Trump sought to set expectations by tweeting:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang gave no details of the agenda, but spoke of the need to see the big picture while fostering mutual interests in trade relations.

“The market dictates that interests between our two countries are structured so that you will always have me and I will always have you,” he told a regular briefing.

“Both sides should work together to make the cake of mutual interest bigger and not simply seek fairer distribution,” he said.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said earlier Thursday that the meeting is a chance for the leaders to build a relationship.

Relations between the US and China have been uncertain since Trump’s election. Among other things, he has accused China of unfair trade practises and threatened to declare it a currency manipulator.

The United States wants China to prove that it is really seeking to stop North Korea’s nuclear testing with actions — and that’s what Trump will be pressing Xi to do when they meet in Florida next week, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.

Haley said the Trump administration has “no patience” for the “cat and mouse situation” where North Korea provocations including banned nuclear and ballistic missile tests are met with UN Security Council resolutions that Pyongyang ignores.

She said the US can’t change the way North Korea thinks but “China can.” And that will be the focus of the president’s meeting with Xi at his Florida resort.

Haley’s comments on North Korea reflect growing frustration in the Security Council and internationally at the failure of six UN sanctions resolutions to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile testing and the expansion of its nuclear programme.

Tensions have escalated over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year, deepening concern in Washington that it could soon develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

“I know China wants to see North Korea stop with the testing,” the US ambassador said.

“Prove it! Prove it! They need to prove with their actions that they want to see that stopped ... and proving it can’t just be stopping the coal intake but allowing it to go through other ways,” Haley said.

“Proving it really is showing them through pressure that you are going to cut them off, and that you take this as seriously as the rest of the world does,” Haley said.

China is North Korea’s most important source of diplomatic support and economic assistance and has long urged a resumption of six-nation denuclearization talks on hold since North Korea withdrew from them in 2009.

Beijing says its leverage over Pyongyang is limited. Despite that, China last month suspended imports of North Korean coal for the rest of the year, depriving Kim Jong Un’s regime of a crucial source of foreign currency though Haley’s comments indicate that Beijing is allowing imports in other ways.

Haley said she expects Trump and Xi to “talk very much about the responsibility that we believe China has — the fact that we don’t have the patience to sit here and see it go round and round anymore and the fact that that we want action.”

She said she expects them to discuss “how that action can come about, and discuss what level of action president Trump thinks it should be.”

With additional reporting by Reuters