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The Trump-Xi Meeting in Beijing, Very Briefly

Donald Trump gave Xi Jinping endorsements; Xi gave him face. Trump heaped praise on Xi for being a strong leader; Xi said nothing in return. Trump announced US responsibility for the trade deficit; Xi did not contradict him. Trump will claim that China has agreed to remove barriers to the American financial sector in the Chinese market; but Xi’s promises aren’t ironclad. Trump lamented that the US is “so far behind” China, while Xi simply noted that the Pacific has room for both countries. Trump said nothing about human rights in China, letting Xi believe it’s no longer an American priority. Trump called on China for the upteenth time to strengthen sanctions on North Korea; Xi said nothing, and the Chinese press removed Trump’s comments. Trump will return home and say the trip was a huge success, while Xi will believe the home field advantage really works. In short, Trump emerged looking like a supplicant, whereas Xi came off looking like the head of a coequal great power.

Since politicians and media like to focus on winners and losers, is there any doubt how the Beijing 2017 summit will be remembered?

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Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.

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