WATCH: Trump on the Summit With Xi
For anyone expecting fireworks or drama to emerge from the Trump-Xi meetings, the summit was surely a disappointment. The administration released few details on the trade sessions and what has been released shows little departure from how issues might have been handled by other presidents.
It’s possible that trade wasn’t the biggest agenda item and may have been overshadowed by the North Korea security situation and the US attack in Syria that occurred while Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting Mar-a-Lago.
President Trump was rather closed-mouthed about the outcome of the meetings, saying only that “progress has been made.” On the campaign trail, Trump was anything but closed-mouthed, accusing China of raping the US economy and vowing to label China a currency manipulator.
At a press briefing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that discussions on regional and maritime security took place during which “President Trump noted the importance of adherence to international norms in the East and South China Seas and to previous statements on non-militarization.”
The two presidents also established a US-China Comprehensive Dialogue as a new high-level framework for negotiations, with four pillars: diplomacy and security, economics, law enforcement and cybersecurity, and social and cultural issues.
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said economic discussions focused “on a more balanced economic relationship, specifically on trade.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said trade issues will be the subject of a 100-day plan, which will represent a “sea change in the pace of discussions” and “the growing rapport between the two countries.”
In response to a reporter’s question about whether the administration will label China a currency manipulator, Mnuchin noted that “the currency report is going to come out in the near future, and we will address that when it comes out.”
All of this sounds like the kinds of talks that could have been conducted by former President Barrack Obama and his predecessors. Tillerson noted that Xi invited Trump to Beijing and that “President Trump welcomed President Xi’s invitation.”
For those looking for Trump to shake things up with Xi, the summit was a grand disappointment. For those who feared the president’s impulses regarding China, the outcome must come as something of a relief.
There were reports in advance of the summit that the president would sign an executive order after Xi left targeting countries including China that dump steel into the United States. The New York Times reported yesterday that “The White House has prepared an executive order that the president may sign in the coming days targeting countries like China that dump steel in the American market.”
So far, at least, that has not happened, and Ross refused to confirm it’s under consideration. “The practice is to announce executive orders and executive memoranda when they’re issued,” he said, “not in response to rumors.”
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