Thursday, April 6, 2017

Trump-Xi Summit: The Five Files That Annoy

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping meet for the first time Thursday in the sumptuous residence of the Republican billionaire in Florida. What are they going to talk about?

- North Korea -

The case will certainly be at the top of the pile: Pyongyang has just fired another ballistic missile, after conducting a nuclear test in September that resulted in new international sanctions against the Kim Jong-Un regime. But Chinese and Americans diverge on how to convince the "hermit country" to abandon its atomic program.

In the eyes of the United States, China is the main economic and diplomatic support of North Korea. It has, therefore, the power to bring its neighbor back to reason.

But China denies having such an influence and is opposed to sanctions that would hit the North Korean population. For Beijing, a collapse of the Pyongyang regime would lead to an influx of refugees and would allow the US-based army, already based in South Korea, to park on the Chinese border, in a hypothetical reunified Korea.

Donald Trump accused mid-March of having "little done" to counter North Korea. And in an interview published on Sunday, he let the threat of a military operation linger by saying he was ready to "settle" the problem alone if Beijing continues to procrastinate.

China is standing up against the anti-missile shield "Thread" that the Americans have begun to deploy in South Korea, considering that it undermines its deterrent force.

- Trade -
During his election campaign, Donald Trump accused China of unfair trade practices and undervalued its currency to boost its exports. Mr. Trump also threatened Beijing with prohibitive tariffs if it does not facilitate access to the US market.

And in a message on Twitter last week, the Republican president described the trade deficit with China (more than 310 billion US dollars) a serious problem that will make "very difficult" his talks with Xi Jinping.

For its part, Beijing assures not to seek surplus with the United States and called Washington to relax its controls on the export of high-tech products.

- Taiwan -

In December, just after his election, Donald Trump provoked China's anger by taking a phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Beijing considers Taiwan (territory not recognized by the UN and politically separated from China since 1949) as one of its provinces and forbids any official contact between the island and foreign countries. The US president backpedaled in February, in a telephone interview with Xi Jinping. But this ultra-sensitive case could re-emerge if Mr. Trump decided to use it as a means of pressure on Beijing.

- The South China Sea -

China claims almost all of this strategic zone where it artificially enlarges islands and reefs, some of which could host armaments. The Trump administration has criticized this work but has not defined a clear policy in the region, where the Obama administration had dispatched warships and aircraft in the name of defending freedom of navigation.

- Human rights -

It is a traditional subject of friction between Chinese and Americans. But since taking office, Donald Trump has shown limited interest in the issue. In 1990, he even praised the crackdown on demonstrations in Tian'anmen Square in Beijing a year earlier. The White House has promised that the subject will be discussed in Florida, but some associations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) say they are worried about the presidential silence and call for pressure on China when several lawyers are prosecuted for their rights. the man.

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