Why Trump's China visit can't be deemed a success

Lester Mason
November 14, 2017

PRESIDENT Xi Jinping gave Donald Trump unprecedented "state visit plus" treatment during the USA leader's three-day visit to China, which was hailed as "successful and historic", with a display of affability between the two men.

The president visited Asia with a two-pronged message on free and fair trade, and collective security to confront North Korea. "From now on, you must learn from me, economically and financially since 2007-2008, politically since 2017 and this new U.S. President took office". You were able to hang in there, ' he said. "Otherwise we'll go to the plane and we'll take off, and we'll be landing in Washington in about 22 hours". "And I would say that's the least significant thing that we accomplished".

"It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization".

Since Trump's election, there have been signs of America's turn inwards or, as some have put it, abdication of global leadership, including its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "Why should I learn from you?" it seems to be saying.

"The Indo-Pacific framing is clearly the handiwork of his more experienced and internationally-minded senior national security team, while the "America First" theme of demanding zero-sum concessions from all our trading partners is not", said Michael J. Green, senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He emphasized plans for increased trade but made no mention of the growing Chinese militarization campaign in the sea. "Life expectancy has risen from just 53 years to more than 82 years today".

In Seoul, South Korea, Trump warned that "three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world" have been sent to the region in case North Korea refuses to make a deal on nuclear weapons. "Nothing is beyond the reach for our two nations" said Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang at the state dinner on November 11 in welcoming Trump in Hanoi.

The day happened to be the first anniversary of Trump winning a surprise victory in the 2016 USA election. In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in is stuck next to an increasingly belligerent North Korea and has already had to capitulate once to economic pressure from Beijing. Extending the offer of a better future for North Korea, and personal engagement, offers another way to encourage talks. The Chinese leader also said Vietnam had agreed to "further deepen" bilateral ties.

Trump's first official visit to the region was billed as a push to step up worldwide pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and reduce USA trade deficits with South Korea, Japan and China.

"The North Korean situation continues to be a problem", Trump said on November 12 while in the Philippines.

"I think this will be a strong message for not only Asia, but also other regions in the world", Japan's economy minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, told reporters.

But then he surprisingly said: "But I don't blame China".

Trump kicked off his trip in Hawaii on November 3, before traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Vietnam has sought balanced relations with the two but with regional dynamics rapidly shifting, it has cut an increasingly lonely figure in attempting to keep a consistent strategy resisting great power coercion. "Despite all the red carpet, Trump's own agenda was largely ignored".

Do you live in Asia? This is the real deal. China's policies in the region have become increasingly disruptive, but an effective USA response is absent because huge American trade and financial links to China rob Washington of the kind of tools deployed against Russian Federation where American economic stakes are very limited.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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