Podcast: What to Expect When Trump Meets Xi

Podcast: What to Expect When Trump Meets Xi

A Chinese magazine poster showing U.S. President Donald Trump is displayed at a newsstand in Shanghai, China on March 21, 2017. U.S. and Chinese citizens are anticipating a summit between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping this week. (Aly Song/Reuters)
from Asia Unbound

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Xi Jinping

Two days from now, U.S. President Donald J. Trump will welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a historic summit between two of the world’s most powerful leaders. On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, former Deputy National Security Adviser to the Vice President Ely Ratner cuts through the flurry of anticipation surrounding the summit and analyzes the key issues at stake. Ratner, who now serves as the CFR Maurice R. Greenberg senior fellow in China studies, argues that even before Xi’s plane touches down, the meeting is already off to a bad strategic start. First, by inviting Xi to Florida rather than Washington at this early stage of Trump’s presidency, U.S. officials have ceded a powerful source of leverage over their Chinese counterparts. Second, the White House has yet to articulate its overall approach to China and the Asia-Pacific – if it has one at all – leaving many people wary in the United States, the region, and beyond. Mixed messaging among three groups in the Trump administration – the businesspeople, the economic nationalists, and the national security hawks – is only exacerbating this uncertainty. As a result, which version of the Trump administration will emerge this Thursday remains a question mark. Will it be one that hits hard on the tough-on-China campaign promises or one that kowtows to Beijing after Chinese assurances of investment and win-win cooperation? Listen below to find out Ratner’s take on the opportunities and risks for the upcoming summit.

Elizabeth C. Economy

C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies