Trump’s ‘Make China Great Again’ tour   

Jess Kaplan, Staff Writer

The United States and China are both historically complex countries. With China’s new status as the world’s second largest economy, the global power status of the United States is under threat, and so the United States must learn to adjust to China’s continually increasing economic strength. The Trump administration has yet to present an explanation of how it views China and the type of relationship it is trying to cultivate with the nation.

True to character, President Donald Trump has shared a variety of conflicting opinions on China, most often through Twitter. For instance, he infamously tweeted about how global warming was perpetrated by the Chinese to hinder the U.S. economy.

Last week, Trump embarked on a 12-day, five-country tour of Asia, including a stop in Beijing, China on Nov. 8. Included in Trump’s agenda for this stop was his intent to both persuade China to change its opinion on contentious matters, particularly the North Korean nuclear threat, and to establish new trade laws.

While meetings with President Xi Jinping were cordial, little was ultimately accomplished in terms of resolving the North Korea threat. Trump turned to flattery and softer rhetoric in order to secure Xi’s help on North Korea, contrasting the harsher approaches he had previously taken against the Chinese president. For example, in July he condemned China for not responding to North Korea’s nuclear threats. Trump suggested suspending oil shipments to North Korea, but was quickly shot down; nonetheless, in a number of tweets he thanked China for being gracious hosts during this visit.

In addressing issues related to trade, Trump exuded a humble and respectful attitude. He praised Xi for his strong trade policy, which he said has left the United States “so far behind.” Unlike the North Korea talks, Trump made a tangible gain from the trade discussion: he signed $250 billion worth of business agreements between the United States and China. These deals are preliminary and can take years to be enacted. Experts see this deal as a token of China’s goodwill, even though it does not grant the United States any new market access in fields such as technology. Some say that this deal was made to give Trump a small victory, which would allow him to be more generous in meeting Chinese objectives.

In some sense, the two-day trip was a success. For one, it ended without any Trump embarrassments. The Chinese media even described the trip as a major success towards strengthening its ties with the United States. An analyst on a state-run broadcast said that Trump “has given China what China wants, which is that respect on the global stage, as the other preeminent nation.”

As U.S. relations with China continue to develop under the Trump presidency, it will be interesting to see how the president’s future visits to China will play out.

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