Is Trump going the Nixon way to make up with China dramatically?

Is Trump going the Nixon way to make up with China dramatically?

Beijing, November 9 (BBC and Russia Today): US President Donald Trump now on a visit to China, appears to have taken a leaf out of the book of former President Richard Nixon and making dramatic efforts to make up with China once again.

It was in 45 years ago, in 1972 at the height of the Cold War with the then Soviet Union, that Nixon secretly flew into Beijing with Pakistani help and made up with Communist China to isolate the Soviets.

During the current visit, President Trump lavished praise on Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a marked contrast to his previous criticism of China on the flashpoint issues of North Korea and trade.

But he also urged Xi to “work very hard” on persuading North Korea to de-nuclearize.

On China’s trade surplus, Trump surprised many when he said he did “not blame China” for “taking advantage”.

China has said it will lower market entry barriers to some sectors.

The US president was speaking in Beijing. He is in the Chinese capital as part of his five-nation tour of Asia. The two leaders held talks earlier on Thursday after a grand welcome for Trump.

China will further lower entry barriers in the banking, insurance, and finance sectors, and gradually reduce vehicle tariffs, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Deals worth $250bn (£190bn) have also been announced, although it is unclear how much of that figure is past deals being re-announced or simply potential future deals.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists the deals were “pretty small” in terms of tackling the trade imbalance.

Cajoled Xi on Pyongyang

Discussion on how to deal with North Korea’s threats to the region has dominated Trump’s agenda, and China is Pyongyang’s main economic supporter.

Trump said China could fix the problem of North Korea’s nuclear program “easily and quickly”.

“I am calling on [Mr Xi] to work very hard. I know one thing about your president. If he works on it hard, it’ll get done,” he added.

Xi, for his part, said both sides would “continue to work towards” fully implementing UN sanctions and “enduring peace” on the Korean peninsula.

Trump has previously been more critical and tweeted in July that Beijing was doing “NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk”.

Just before his arrival in Beijing he urged China to sever ties with the North. Beijing has consistently said it is doing all it can.

The then US President Nixon dines with Chinese leader Chou En Lai in Beijing in 1972

Lets China Off Hook on Trade Deficit

“I don’t blame China – after all, who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens… I give China great credit,” said Trump while addressing a room of business leaders.

Instead, the US leader said previous US administrations were responsible for what he called “a very unfair and one-sided” trade relationship with China.

In the past China has accused China of stealing American jobs and threatened to label it a currency manipulator, though he has rolled back on such rhetoric and stressed  “healthy” and “balanced” economic and trade relations.

The two leaders also said they would to work together to tackle terrorism and drug trafficking.  Trump upheld the one China policy in his talks with Mr Xi, Xinhua state news agency reported.

Pours Praise On Xi

Since arriving in Beijing, Trump has been fulsome in his praise for the Chinese leader, saying at one point: “You are a very special man.”

He has also enthusiastically thanked Mr Xi for his hospitality in several tweets.

Trump’s chief-of-staff, John Kelly, in a recent Fox News interview indicated that disagreements with China on trade didn’t “make them an enemy” and suggested that its one-party political system was not an issue for Washington. Trump’s own description of Xi as a “king” of China was perceived by some observers as outright flattery.

There is speculation that Trump may be tempted to “pull a Nixon” – strike a policy-changing bargain with Xi just like President Richard Nixon did with his historic 1972 visit to China – or in other words “explore win-win bilateral ties,” as the Chinese press would prefer to put it.

(Chinese President Xi Jinping receives US President Donald Trump)