Last week, President Xi visited Manila, the capital of the Philippines, marking the first time a Chinese leader has visited the city in 13 years. With the relationship between the Philippines and China only recently on the mend, the purpose of President Xi's visit was threefold. Firstly, he hoped to push past conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea. Secondly, according to Stephen Nagy, senior associate professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, China has been trying to "woo Manila away from Washington's political orbit," in order to bolster its position in the upcoming trade talks at the G20. Finally, President Xi looked to strengthen Beijing's relationship with Manila, providing China with an additional regional ally.
While President Xi made stops throughout the Asia Pacific, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a report concluding that, "China has not fundamentally altered its unfair, unreasonable, and market-distorting practices that were the subject of the March 2018 report." The report expressed the Trump administration's stance that China has not taken sufficient action to address U.S. concerns that sparked the initial round of tariffs. Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that China has already responded to U.S. complaints in detail via a government white paper that was issued in September and recommends that "the U.S. side read it in detail." Overall, the USTR report has magnified the importance of the upcoming meeting between President Xi and President Trump regarding the escalating trade war.
Additionally, President Xi has arranged to meet with President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama in the days following the summit, emphasizing China's efforts to increase its influence in Latin America. According to China-US Focus contributor Tom Harper, China's increased involvement in Latin America is a key part of "wider global recognition," an integral aspect of the country's expanding foreign policy under Xi Jinping.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.