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7 Dos and Don’ts for Trump’s China Trip

For a second time this year, President Donald Trump is streamer into a assembly with his Chinese reflection woefully unprepared. As was loyal when Trump prematurely hosted Xi Jinping during Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, in March, U.S. process toward China stays unformulated and uncoordinated. Departments and cupboard officials are still using their possess plays mostly unbeknownst to—and during times in proceed tragedy with—one another. All a while, U.S. process is theme to a whims of an indeterminate and unscripted boss whose tongue on China swings behind and onward like an out-of-date metronome.

Without a awake China policy, most reduction a plan for implementing it, Trump administration officials have been tough pulpy to explain since a boss is going to Beijing during all. Not so for China. Xi is entrance off his accession during a Communist Party’s twice-a-decade Congress, a intemperate jubilee of his converging of power. And Trump’s revisit will usually help.

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First and foremost, Trump’s Beijing outing will use Xi’s domestic domestic interests, bolstering his picture among a Chinese people as a co-equal of a American president. It will also means Xi a event to agree Trump and remonstrate him that a United States should both accommodate China’s core interests and behind divided from any punitive or destabilizing measures on trade, North Korea, a South China Sea and Taiwan that would interrupt an differently healthy and certain U.S.-China relationship. Prospects for poignant process breakthroughs are slim to none.

The best a United States can wish for is that Trump departs China though doing poignant repairs to U.S. interests in a region. What this means in use is that a running mantra for Trump’s Nov revisit to Beijing should be a Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm.

But how? While a U.S. has already lowered expectations to scarcely 0 for what it hopes to achieve, success will be totalled by what Trump doesn’t do in Beijing. Here are 7 critical hazards to avoid:

1. Don’t negotiate a corner statement: The unaccompanied misfortune thing a Trump administration could do in Beijing would be to pointer a corner stipulation that hangs like an albatross on U.S. Asia policy. The Chinese will certainly try to pin Trump down on all sorts of mystic platitudes, which—while clearly harmless—would constantly be review via Asia as U.S. shelter and acquiescence. The Trump group isn’t going to outmanoeuvre a Chinese. Best not to try. Play it protected instead with a uneven press statement.

2. Don’t leave Trump alone with Xi: One-on-one personality meetings are traditionally an event for U.S. presidents to broach direct, supportive messages to their counterparts. The user tenure being: traditionally. In this case, as was loyal in Florida in March, such an rendezvous will leave Trump exposed to all sorts of personal and private influences that underneath no business offer U.S. interests. Everything Xi says to Trump should have an audience, and clamp versa.

3. Don’t bashful divided from areas of friction: The principal unwell of Trump’s proceed to China has been his unaccompanied concentration on [ER2] North Korea’s chief and barb programs during a responsibility of other critical U.S. interests. Trump himself has pronounced regularly that he’s not going to give Xi a tough time on Taiwan or trade as prolonged as China is assisting to vigour Pyongyang. This is a comfortless disagreement of what constitutes U.S. precedence and energy in a attribute with China. Trump is distant some-more expected to bleed Chinese team-work on North Korea if America is seen as clever and principled, rather than loath and peaceful to discount divided a interests for a right price. If a boss wants to infer he’s tough on North Korea, he’ll need to be likewise so on a South China Sea, Taiwan and tellurian rights. Failing to press Xi on these issues—both publicly and privately—will be review in China and via a segment as U.S. weakness.

4. Don’t exaggerate a wins: In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross trumpeted an early shared agreement on trade and investment—widely seen as low-hanging fruit—as a “Herculean accomplishment.” The Trump administration would be correct to equivocate identical exaggeration when China fundamentally offers adult juicy “tweetables” on autos, liquefied healthy gas, soy beans, financial services or whatever else Beijing has adult a sleeve to lessen Trump. There is already a coterie within a White House that wants to announce feat and go home, casting aside intensity punitive measures on some-more material and elemental issues compared with marketplace entrance and industrial process in China. Rather than overstating a significance of China’s long-overdue concessions, a best play for Trump would be to appreciate Xi for holding initial stairs to emanate some-more estimable mercantile ties, and afterwards fast get behind to perfectionist respect opposite a most wider operation of sectors and industries.

5. Ditch a flattery: Trump has done a terrible robe of publicly flattering over Xi, referring to him as a “terrific guy” and a “great leader.” The jury is still out either this is tactical brownnosing or an tangible peremptory affinity. (Former White House confidant Steve Bannon recently supposing justification for a latter, telling a Hong Kong newspaper, “I don’t consider there’s a universe personality that President Trump respects some-more than a boss of China.”) Regardless, Trump should be a friendly guest, though he should also be responsive that his comments will atmosphere for weeks and months on Chinese promotion in a use of strengthening Xi internally and abating a station of a United States via Asia. Trump’s aides should explain a deleterious effects of his open devotion to Xi.

6. Leave “America First” during home: In partial since a Trump administration has no speculation of success in Beijing, his stop in China will be a slightest critical of a five-country tour. Whether Trump gets China right will count some-more on his ability during a other tools of his Asia pitch to attest both an fast joining to America’s allies and a jot of U.S. informal leadership. After what is expected to be a well-spoken stop in Japan, large risks wait in South Korea given Trump’s prior comments adverse a U.S.-Korea giveaway trade agreement and accusing Seoul of obliging North Korea and not pulling a weight in a alliance. Revising trade deals is satisfactory game, though Trump’s revisit to Seoul, most reduction in his debate to South Korea’s National Assembly, is conjunction a place nor a time to do it. Likewise, in Vietnam, quite with Trump’s debate during a APEC CEO Summit, a adults in a administration will need to do some critical restraint and rebellious to safeguard that “America First” takes a backseat to what a White House itself previewed as a president’s idea to reaffirm “United States caring in compelling a giveaway and open Indo-Pacific region.” That’s a good message; hang to it.

7. Don’t slouch: The Chinese will do all humanly probable to forestall Trump from observant or doing anything extemporaneously. The black and messages of a revisit will instead be conveyed by central photographs and firmly scripted press sprays. These will be critical moments for Trump not to tumble chase to China’s efforts to visually debase a U.S. president. Recall a favorite photo of China’s state-run media from Florida that prisoner an learned Xi education a discontinued Trump slumped on a couch. Trump’s handlers should take caring to equivocate a repeat opening in front of a cameras. Instead, a boss should give his “very good friend” one of those famous Trump-style tug-and-pull handshakes for all a universe to see. That alone would make a outing a success.

Ely Ratner is a Maurice R. Greenberg comparison associate in China studies during a Council on Foreign Relations. He formerly served as emissary inhabitant confidence confidant to Vice President Joe Biden.

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Article source: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/05/7-dos-and-donts-for-trumps-china-trip-215788