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Trump shows ‘money first’ diplomacy

Posted November. 10, 2017 09:00,   

Updated November. 10, 2017 09:25


The highlight of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to China was his meeting with U.S. and Chinese business leaders that followed his summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. While the two presidents were seated at the rostrum in a dignified manner, CEOs of China’s state-run energy company Sinopec and telecommunication equipment maker Xiaomi, major U.S. firms such as Qualcomm, Boeing, Ford and General Motors exchanged red memorandums for a combined total of 253.5 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of contracts.

Trump, who demanded South Korea and Japan purchase large amounts of U.S. defense equipment and address trade imbalances while jointly responding to the North Korean nuclear threats, also put into practice his “America first” idea in China. Having received an imperial treatment at the Forbidden City on Wednesday and an astronomical amount of Chinese investment in his country at Tiananmen on Thursday, Trump took a step back from his criticism of China’s unfair trade practices and reluctance in sanctioning North Korea. Xi, who read Trump’s real intention, used a proper strategy.

When Trump said at a treaty-signing ceremony he does not blame China for the “unfair” trade relationship between the two countries, participants gave big applauds. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens. I give China great credit,” he said. “In actuality, I blame past [U.S.] administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow.” It was a sea change from his previous attitude of harshly complaining about the U.S.-China trade imbalances and warned that he would designate China as a foreign exchange manipulating countries and investigate China’s infringement of U.S. intellectual properties.

Stressed the importance of Washington-Beijing relations, Xi said that China’s development has provided many job opportunities for Americans and that the business pacts signed by entrepreneurs from the two countries proved the two can have a win-win relationship. Trump said the two leaders agreed to take concrete steps to address the huge trade imbalances.

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com · Eun-A Cho achim@donga.com