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Foreign Policy

China This Week: Trump's First Asian Foray

Nov 06 , 2017

U.S. President Trump first Asian trip will bring him to five countries and two international summits. North Korea is very much going to be a focal point of the trip, and when Trump touches down in Beijing, many are wondering what sort of rhetoric he might use to persuade China to do more to reign in North Korea. H.R. McMaster, Trump's National Security Advisor quipped, "I don't think the president modulates his language -- have you noticed that?"

While China's state media is putting a hopeful and positive picture on Trump's visit, there still are Chinese and U.S. leaders concerned by the lack of cohesiveness among the Trump administration in their position on North Korea. Tao Wenzhao writes in China-US Focus, "The Trump administration has been sending mixed and incoherent messages on the issue. President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, and Defense Secretary Mattis expressed different positions on different occasions, indicating a lack of consensus within the cabinet." Other's are concerned that Trump and his aides have not aligned their interests or prepared well for the trip. In the Washington Post, Ryan Hass said, "past presidents had their Asia trips "preceded by six months of legwork — really hard, intensive engagement in the region by Cabinet and sub-Cabinet-level officials to tee up deliverables. ... That has not occurred in this instance."

Adding intrigue to the entire visit is the warming relations between President Xi and President Moon of South Korea. On Monday, both nations announced that they would "expeditiously bring exchange and cooperation in all areas back on a normal development track." It appeared that Xi Jinping decided that opposition to the U.S. deployment of the Thaad system was not successful in driving a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea. As CSIS's Michael Green commented, "It's going to undermine the Trump administration's effort to build solidarity among the U.S., Japan, and Korea to put pressure not only on North Korea, but on China to do more on North Korea."

The good news is that White House aides have asked for familiar food to be on hand for Trump's meals, so that he stay's to lower the risk of getting off-balance or making "gaffes or explosive remarks."

For the latest issue of China This Week, an exclusive weekly review and analysis of major trends and developments impacting the China-U.S. relations, please visit here.

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