Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Trump, Xi converge on currency, Syria as US-China ties warm

Trump, Xi converge on currency, Syria as US-China ties warm

Beijing's most powerful leader in decades also invited the neophyte U.S. president on a coveted state visit to China later in the year.

PRESIDENT Donald Trump (pic) said he forged a friendship with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, striking a positive tone in the early hours of the first-ever meeting between leaders of the world's two biggest economies. Beijing has been gasping for a right strategy to deal with the unpredictable and less-restrained USA under Trump ever since his campaign days, and the attack seems to have delayed the inevitable.

Mr Trump outraged China in December when he took the unorthodox step of accepting a phone call from the Taiwanese president.

Although Beijing has condemned this and previous missile tests, it has so far been reluctant to isolate its neighbour, fearing its collapse could spawn a refugee crisis and bring the U.S. military to its doorstep.

On trade issues, Trump called for China to "level the playing field" for American workers, stressing the need for reciprocal market access.

North Korea is pledging to boost its defenses following President Trump's decision to strike a Syrian airfield, calling the move "absolutely unpardonable".

"We would be happy to work with them", Tillerson said of the Chinese leadership.

The swift action in Syria could be interpreted as a signal especially to defiant nuclear-armed North Korea - and by extension, its ally China - as well as other countries like Iran and Russian Federation of Trump's willingness to use military force. Chinese experts say Washington's options in North Korea is limited. "Now, we are not saying that we are the ones who are going to effect that change".

Pyongyang could abandon its nuclear ambitions voluntarily if it were guaranteed a collective security agreement driven by relevant regional powers.

Iran, which also backs Assad, denounced the USA strike, saying it was "dangerous, destructive and a violation of global laws" to use chemical weapons as an excuse for unilateral action. They agreed to take stronger measures if the North carries out an additional nuclear or missile test. It even announced a suspension of all coal imports from North Korea, Pyongyang's crucial source of foreign currency.

China's economy is to maintain sound momentum of development, and China and the United States enjoy broad prospects in economic and trade cooperation, said Xi, urging the two sides to grasp the opportunity.

Meanwhile, Beijing was content to deflect any heavy criticism over the trade deficit and job losses.

"At the end of previous year people across the world were concerned about China-US relations", said an editorial in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times newspaper. I was critical of Presidents Bush and Obama for failing to hold China accountable on trade and I had hoped that President Trump would keep his promise to do so "on day one".

Surprisingly, Trump did not resort to any of his campaign days jibes. After their first face-to-face at the Mar-a-Lago resort, he trumpeted they had developed an "outstanding" relationship.

And the Chinese leader has plans to return the American hospitality, according to the official news agency Xinhua, which reported that Xi invited Trump to a state visit in China later this year. We have little evidence that the Trump administration planned the authorisation of the Syria strike to coincide with the summit or to send China any particular message, but the timing was an uncanny reminder for Beijing of the differences that remain between the U.S. and China; that the two remain near-peers in the realm of contemporary great powers, and not absolute peers as China would will it.

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