Irshad Salim, BE2C2 Report — While President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday morning that only “time will tell” on trade deficit with China, after discussing several issues with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their high-profile meetings at Mar-a-lago this week, President Xi invited U.S. to participate in China’s One Belt One Road Initiative.
“It was a great honor to have President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan of China as our guests in the United States. Tremendous…” the president wrote. “…goodwill and friendship was formed, but only time will tell on trade.”
The Republican president tweeted last week that the United States could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses and that his meeting with Xi “will be a very difficult one.”
But on Friday, the unpredictable Trump not only set a different tone but also avoided any public lapses in protocol that Chinese officials had feared could embarrass their leader.
“We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China,” Trump told reporters as the two delegations met around tables flanked by large U.S. and Chinese flags. “We will be making additional progress. The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding.
“And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away,” he added, without providing details.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Trump was able to build on his important relationship with the president Xi but was “frank” and “candid” about their differences.
“I think all of us are feeling very good about the results of this summit in terms of what it did for setting a very constructive tone going forward,” he said.
Trump accepted an invitation from Xi to visit China for a state visit at some point.
Chinese State media noted that “Xi’s two-day trip at Mar-a-Lago was marked by cordiality, with both presidents seen smile [sic] to each other.”
According to Xinhua, the Chinese state media, President Xi urged both countries to “grasp the opportunity” of economic development between the two countries and signaled interest in future investments.
“China welcomes the U.S. side to participate in cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Xi’s signature foreign policy imitative aimed at infrastructure development across Asia, Africa and Europe, seen in some policy circles as a partial answer to the pivot to Asia strategy of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
China last week invited British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend a major summit in May on its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build a new Silk Road, diplomatic sources told Reuters, as London said she would visit China this year.
According to a statement from the White House, Trump told the Chinese that they needed to “level the playing field for American workers.” He expressed concerns about the Chinese government’s intervention in U.S. economy was hurting jobs for the American worker, reported Breitbart News.
Both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spoke to media positively of a “100-day plan” that they discussed with their Chinese counterparts to make important changes immediately, the conservative right-wing online news reported.
“The most interesting thing to me was they expressed an interest in reducing their net trade balance because of the impact it’s having on money supply and inflation,” Ross said about the Chinese. “That’s the first time I’ve heard them say that in a bilateral context.”
While Trump spoke publicly of progress on a range of issues in his first U.S.-China summit – as did several of his top aides – they provided few concrete specifics other than China’s agreement to work together to narrow disagreements and find common ground for cooperation.
Xi reportedly agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting U.S. exports and reducing China’s trade surplus with the United States.
Throughout the campaign and upon taking office, Trump often bashed China and blamed it for the loss of U.S. jobs. He promised during the campaign to stop what he called the theft of American jobs by China. Many blue-collar workers helped propel him to his unexpected election victory on Nov. 8 and Trump is under pressure to deliver for them.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order that instructed his administration to examine the U.S. trade deficit with China and other major trading partners and to report back within 90 days with actions to help reduce the gap.