21 March 2017

News Report: Trump 'Whips Up Tensions' With China to 'Set the Stage for Bargaining'

United States President Donald Trump has made strong statements on China with regard to trade, the South China Sea and the North Korean missile program in a bid to set the stage for negotiations aimed at reducing Washington's trade deficit with Beijing, Vzglyad columnist Petr Akopov asserted.

"In general, the Trump administration has increased tensions in the bilateral relationship," he said. "In reality, this was a preparation for bargaining. Trump genuinely wants to alter the highly unfavorable trade balance with China and is whipping up tensions ahead of talks on customs, yuan exchange rate, etc. Surely, the US and China have major geopolitical differences, … but Trump clearly did not intend to abandon the One China principle or make any other radical steps that could lead to a crisis in the bilateral relationship. Beijing has been long aware of this."

The analyst pointed out that ties between Washington and China are in fact rapidly developing. For instance, in early February, Trump reaffirmed that the White House was committed to the One China policy, a message Beijing was eager to receive following Trump's unorthodox telephone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

On February 27, Trump and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, discussed bilateral cooperation between the US and China, as well as Trump's face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Over the weekend, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised these issues during a meeting with President Xi while on a trip to China. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that Tillerson told President Xi that President Trump was anticipating a face-to-face meeting with the Chinese leader, saying that these discussions "will chart the course for future US-China relations."

"As a result, in less than six weeks both sides have largely covered the path to a summit. We can now speculate as to where and when it will take place," Akopov said.

The analyst maintained that it is the US president's to pay a visit to China since President Xi was on an official visit to the United States in September 2015. Barack Obama went to China for the G20 summit, but this, according to Akopov, "does not count" since it was not the bilateral format.

"This is why Trump will either have to wait for the beginning of July when G20 leaders gather in Hamburg or go to China. He is likely to opt for the second option since he will hardly want to hold two significant meetings, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, mid-summer," the analyst said.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.