China’s Xi urges trade cooperation in first meeting with Trump
PALM BEACH, FloridaChinese President Xi Jinping urged cooperation with the United States on trade and investment on April 6, inviting U.S. President Donald Trump to visit China in a cordial start to their first meeting likely to broach sensitive security and commercial issues.
Trump has said he wants to raise concerns about China’s trade practices and press Xi to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions during his two-day visit to the Spanish-style Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, though no major deals on either issue were expected.
The two sides should promote the “healthy development of bilateral trade and investment” and advance talks on a bilateral investment agreement, Xi said, according to a statement on China’s Foreign Ministry website.
“We have a thousand reasons to get China-U.S. relations right, and not one reason to spoil the China-U.S. relationship,” Xi told Trump.
Trump accepted Xi’s invitation to China later this year, state news agency Xinhua news agency cited officials as saying on April 7.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, joined Trump and his wife, Melania, at a long table in an ornate candle-lit private dining room festooned with red and yellow floral centerpieces, where they dined on pan-seared Dover sole and New York strip steak.
Trump, a New York real estate magnate before he ran for office, joked before dinner: “We’ve had a long discussion already, and so far I have gotten nothing, absolutely nothing. But we have developed a friendship - I can see that - and I think long term we are going to have a very, very great relationship and I look very much forward to it.”
The fanfare over the summit on April 6 was overshadowed by another pressing foreign policy issue: the U.S. response to a deadly poison gas attack in Syria. As Trump and Xi were wrapping up dinner, U.S. forces fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase from which it said the chemical weapons attack was launched this week, an escalation of the U.S. military role in Syria that swiftly drew sharp criticism from Russia.
In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry urged all parties in Syria to find a political settlement.
Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to stop what he called the theft of American jobs by China and rebuild the country’s manufacturing base. Many blue-collar workers helped propel him to his unexpected election victory in November and Trump wants to deliver for them.
“We have been treated unfairly and have made terrible trade deals with China for many, many years. That’s one of the things we are going to be talking about,” Trump told reporters ahead of the meeting.
The bilateral investment treaty mentioned by Xi, talks on which began during former president George W. Bush’s administration and resumed under Barack Obama, has received little attention since Trump took office.
Trump is still finding his footing in the White House and has yet to spell out a strategy for what his advisers called a trade relationship based on “the principle of reciprocity.”
He brought his top economic and national advisers to Florida for the meeting, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
“Even as we share a desire to work together, the United States does recognize the challenges China can present to American interests,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, also in Florida for the meeting.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who both work at the White House, also were among the dinner guests.