After past meetings with Xi, Trump taking softer stance on China

World Today

During his election campaign, Donald Trump consistently took a hard line on China. But analysts said he has relaxed his stance toward Beijing.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

Throughout his U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump pitted the Chinese worker against the American voter.

“They’re all taking our jobs. That’s all going to change very rapidly I promise,” Trump said during his campaign, arguing that he was the only candidate who could masterfully deal with Beijing because he, “deal[s] with the Chinese all of the time.”

But at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump struck a different note. “We have developed a friendship, I can see that,” he said of his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He emphasized the importance of U.S.-China cooperation—especially when it comes to Pyongyang.

Just hours after a failed DPRK missile test in April, President Trump tweeted: “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!”

Trump reversed a campaign pledge. He declined to label Beijing a “currency manipulator.” He didn’t slap higher tariffs on Chinese imports, and he didn’t take any more calls from Taiwan’s leader after their first exchange.

“He has in that process had 180 degree ‘U-turn’ in policy towards China,” explained Sam Zhao of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation at the University of Denver.

“It’s not that he has changed his policy or changed the U.S. policy; he’s changed his personal style of dealing with those issues.”

Trump has continued to press on trade. Ahead of his state visit to China, a senior White House official predicted Trump will demand a reduction in the $347 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.

But if Trump pushes for concessions, at least one of China’s neighbors hopes he doesn’t press too hard.

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s Prime Minister, expressed his hope that, “the U.S. will be able to maintain a stable and constructive relationship with China-engaging each other in the highest levels, building trust and establishing institutional mechanisms.”

In an example of their cooperation in action, Beijing and Washington in September helped organize the toughest U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang to date. The question now is what more can China and the U.S. accomplish together.