Trump to visit China this year

(BBC) – US President Donald Trump has accepted his counterpart Xi Jinping’s invitation to make a visit to China, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Mr Trump is hosting the Chinese president for a two-day visit at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Last year Mr Trump said China had “raped the US” and vowed to brand the superpower a currency manipulator.

But the meeting appeared to be diplomatic, with both leaders agreeing to a new format for US-China talks.

Mr Tillerson said President Trump’s trip to China would be a “state visit” in 2017, but gave no other details.

US President Donald Trump with Chinese leader Xi Jinping's“Both the atmosphere and the chemistry between the two leaders was positive… all of us are feeling very good about the results of this summit,” said Mr Tillerson.

The leaders of the world’s two most powerful economies agreed to a 100-day plan to discuss trade talks directed at boosting US exports and reducing Washington’s trade deficit with China, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

“Given the range of issues and the magnitude, that may be ambitious, but it’s a very big sea change in the pace of discussion,” Mr Ross told reporters.

“I think that’s a very important symbolization of the growing rapport between the two countries.”

Mr Trump said he believes he made “tremendous progress” in the US-China relationship during talks with Mr Xi.

On the night of the Chinese president’s arrival, a US airstrike on an airbase in Syria was launched in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

The attack was made public on Thursday evening just moments after Mr Xi and his wife left the resort following dinner.

Beijing has avoided publicly taking sides on the issue.

China’s position on Syria is much closer to Russia’s than to the US.

And the Chinese government will guess that the timing of the American missile strike was a blunt message that without more robust Chinese help on dismantling Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program, the next target for pre-emptive American military action might be North Korea.

In Chinese protocol, sudden moves disrupting setpiece occasions are avoided wherever possible, and in private, President Xi is likely to be angry that President Trump chose to strike on the very night of his visit.

But in public Mr Xi stuck to his script about the virtues of co-operation while Mr Trump insisted they’d formed an outstanding relationship and made great progress.

As the two presidents went into their final lunch there were no specifics though, and in the aftermath of the US missile strike on Syria, all the big questions which bedevil the US China relationship have been kicked down the road for President Trump’s visit to China later this year.

According to a statement on China’s foreign ministry website, Mr Xi told Mr Trump: “We have a thousand reasons to get China-US relations right, and not one reason to spoil the China-US relationship.”

The pair discussed a range of issues, including North Korea, which the US believes is trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the west coast of the US.

Mr Tillerson said on Friday the US may take its own measure in dealing with Pyongyang.

“We would be happy to work with them,” he said. “But we understand it creates unique problems for them and challenges and that we would and are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to co-ordinate with us.”


Top: Mr Trump gestures during a discussion with his guests. Photo: Reuters via BBC

Inset: Mr Trump calls his relationship with Mr Xi “outstanding”. Photo: Getty Images via BBC



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