This first big summit for President Donald Trump comes this week in Florida
President Donald Trump will use the Winter White House to host one of the most important meetings in his first 100 days in office. Thursday, at Mar-a-Lago, Trump will welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping. Not surprisingly, trade and North Korea appear to be his top concerns for the Xi meeting.
In an interview published today President Trump told the Financial Times that he has “great respect” for Xi, and “would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries, and I hope so.”
The Financial Times asked Trump if he would consider agreeing to remove troops from the Korean peninsula if China agrees to up pressure on North Korea.
“Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” Trump replied.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday said that China needs to do more to push North Korea to stop efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
“They need to show us how concerned they are,” Haley said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that.”
At the moment it is unclear exactly what President Trump means by “solve North Korea,” though he seems to be borrowing from the playbook of the four presidents before him, who tried, with differing mixes of negotiations, sanctions, sabotage and threats of unilateral strikes, to force the North to give up its program.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed in Beijing last month to work with China on North Korea and stressed Trump’s desire to enhance understanding.
China has been irritated at being told repeatedly by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, or face U.S. sanctions on Chinese businesses trading with North Korea, and by the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.
Beijing is also deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, after Trump, as president-elect, broke with decades of U.S. policy by taking a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and saying Washington did not have to stick to a “one China” policy.
Trump later agreed in a phone call with Xi to honor the long-standing policy and has also written to him since seeking “constructive ties.”