Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with President Trump next week, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
This visit will be the first in-person meeting between Trump and Xi, after Trump’s sharp criticisms of China during the presidential campaign.
Trump and Xi are likely to get together at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, though the White House hasn’t officially announced the visit. Likely topics for discussion are Trump’s threats to counter China’s trade policies, which he has called unfair.
As Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reports, an informal meeting of the two leaders – in Florida rather than at the White House – may be intended to reduce pressure for any concrete results, which could be difficult to achieve at the moment. The meeting echoes Xi’s 2013 visit with President Obama at the Sunnylands estate in California, where Xi and Obama were photographed strolling along a lake in their shirtsleeves. The Post says:
“Truly impressed, the official mainland media then hailed the Sunnylands encounter as a new style of diplomacy known as ‘Manor Diplomacy’, praising Xi’s confidence and maturity regarding bilateral ties.
“It is interesting to note that while US officials proposed Sunnylands in 2013, it was China that reportedly pushed for an invitation to Trump’s private resort. Xi would be the second foreign leader to visit the resort, following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who met with Xi earlier this month, will also be in attendance, according to the senior State Department official. As NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reported at the time of Tillerson’s Asia tour:
“To the surprise of many observers, Tillerson referred to a mutual U.S.-China understanding of ‘non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation.’
“This was a near-verbatim repetition of the Chinese government’s framework for relations with the U.S. Beijing refers to it as a ‘New Type of Great Power Relations.’ At its core, it implies that the U.S. and China are not only both great powers, but co-equals. …
“Tillerson’s use of Beijing’s formula may leave the Trump administration open to criticism that either Tillerson bent over too far backwards to placate his Chinese hosts, or he failed to articulate the U.S. vision of the relationship, perhaps because it has yet to come up with a coherent policy towards China and Asia. Or both.”
The Palm Beach Post reports that Xi will be in Palm Beach on April 6 and 7, and will not stay at Mar-A-Lago.
The Government Accountability Office announced Tuesday that it will be examining the costs and security issues associated with Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-A-Lago. Senate Democrats introduced a bill last week that would call on the president to release logs of visitors to the White House and Trump’s private properties, including Mar-a-Lago — information that isn’t currently available.
It was Richard Nixon’s visits to his home on Florida that prompted Congress to create the Presidential Protection Assistance Act to cap spending on Secret Service protection of presidents with multiple residences, according to NPR member station WLRN:
“Nixon owned a 1950s, concrete-block ranch home at 500 Bay Lane in Key Biscayne. It became known as the ‘Winter White House.’ When the Watergate scandal unfolded, Nixon spent a lot of time there.
“In 1969, Nixon bought the ‘Western White House,’ a home in San Clemente, California.
“The combined cost of securing both homes — more than $1 million, according to a General Accounting Office report — prompted Congress to limit this kind of spending.”
The act was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Trump has spent half of his weekends since taking office at Mar-A-Lago. Based on a GAO estimate of a weekend trip by President Obama, the estimated price tag for taxpayers is $3.6 million per trip.