Home GRASP GRASP/Korea Said and unsaid: the hits and misses of Xi-Trump talks in Mar-a-Lago

Said and unsaid: the hits and misses of Xi-Trump talks in Mar-a-Lago

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Issues such as Taiwan, North Korea and the South China Sea may still present hurdles, but summit between the US and Chinese presidents had both symbolic and tangible successes
T he world of summit diplomacy is often one of warm words in public, tough talk behind the scenes.
And the two-day effort by US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping ( 習近平 ) at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was no exception.
Possibly the most watchable diplomatic drama of the year, it featured the leaders of the world’s two largest economies and most influential nations. The keenest of observers will have been watching not only what was said, but (more importantly) what was not said.
What is often called the most important bilateral relationship of global diplomacy has been becoming more adversarial of late, many observers believe, as the two countries vie for regional and global domination on everything from trade and the economy to the military, diplomatic and ideological spheres. The risk in this is that rivalry will turn into enmity.
For Trump, who is under pressure to realise his campaign promises, the priority at the summit was to pressure China to take substantive action on issues including trade and North Korea.
For Xi, who is struggling to ensure his status as absolute leader ahead of a crucial party conclave (the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party), securing a visit to Trump’s private resort was already a mark of success. The fact he was well received was an added bonus.
Chinese diplomats had worked hard to ensure a smooth summit and avoid any scenario that could be construed as a snub or loss of face.

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