Strategic Triangle: Trump Charms Xi to Try to Break Moscow-Beijing Partnership

Sunday, April 9, 2017
By Paul Martin

Last week, President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, reaching agreement on a range of issues, including a new 100-day trade plan. Observers say Washington is now actively working to try and break the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership, but add that the international division of labor makes these plans doomed to fail.

On Friday, Trump said that the US had made “tremendous progress” in its relationship with Beijing following Thursday and Friday’s landmark summit meeting with China’s Xi Jinping in Palm Beach, Florida.

The two countries agreed to establish a new channel for top-rank military communication to avoid military incidents, and to strengthen existing military-to-military cooperation at all levels. They also agreed to a new 100-day plan for trade talks meant to increase US exports and reduce its trade deficit with China. Finally, US officials reported that the two sides had agreed to the need for cooperation to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The meeting at Mar a Lago coincided with the US cruise missile strikes against Syria Thursday night. President Trump informed his Chinese counterpart of the attack during their joint state dinner. Against this background, Trump’s granddaughter sang for the Chinese leader, and recited a poem in Chinese.

Russian observers have suggested that such demonstrative use of both the ‘carrot and stick’ in negotiations demonstrates the extreme importance which the US has staked to relations with China. This contrasts sharply with the president’s rhetoric while on the campaign trail, when he made the claim that Beijing was a ‘currency manipulator’, that it had “raped” the US economy and that the money and jobs stolen from the US by China was “the greatest single theft in the history of the world.” Now, analysts say, Trump’s behavior speaks to a desire to establish closer ties to Beijing, and at Moscow’s expense.

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