President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping say they have agreed to work together on the denuclearization of North Korea and closer cooperation on trade.
In a joint statement delivered at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with Xi, Trump praised the Chinese president as “a very special man” and earlier, he said the two enjoyed “great chemistry.” The Chinese leader emphasized that while the two economic and military giants would occasionally have differences, there were opportunities to be “mutually reinforcing.”
Trump is on the third leg of a five-nation visit to Asia. He has already made stops in Japan and South Korea and will also visit Vietnam and the Philippines.
The Trump administration has said repeatedly that it expects Beijing to use its leverage over the North Korean regime to help end Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
NPR’s Scott Horsley, who is traveling with the president, says Trump “thanked Xi for steps China has already taken, like suspending coal purchases from North Korea, as well as severing banking ties with that country. But Trump says all countries must do more.”
“We have a chance to strengthen ties and improve the lives of our citizens and stand together against those who threaten our civilization,” Trump said. “As long as we stand together, that threat will never happen. Doesn’t even stand a chance.”
Xi touched on the thorny issue of military movements in the South China Sea, where Beijing’s navy has been increasingly active. U.S. and Chinese warships and military aircraft have had a number of tense encounters in recent years there, which China views as home waters.
“The U.S. and China are countries with important influence in the Asia-Pacific,” Xi remarked. “As I said to the president, the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both of us.”
The two sides announced $250 billion in new deals between U.S. and Chinese firms. The two leaders looked on and applauded as business leaders signed deals on energy, aircraft, soybeans, and electronics, among other things. U.S. businesses included Goldman Sachs, ADM, Boeing, Qualcomm, Ford, GM, and GE.
Scott reports that Xi “says his country is willing to import more crude oil, natural gas, and agricultural products from the U.S, but … did not address Trump’s broader complaints about trade barriers or forced transfer of American technology.”
“China and U.S. are the two largest economies and big engines of global growth. We need to strengthen cooperation, pursue stable and balanced economic and trade relations,” Xi said.
That “balance” is something that Trump has been vocal about and although the president was measured in his language during the joint statement, he was less reserved at the signing ceremony, saying the U.S.-China trade relationship was “Right now, unfortunately, it is very unfair and one-sided.”
“But I don’t blame China, after all, who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?” Trump said.
In the past, Trump has called China a “currency manipulator” – accusing it of holding the renminbi weak relative to the U.S. dollar to boost exports. In fact, economists say that isn’t true. And the president himself now says he’s changed his mind on that issue.
Trump also touched on the opioid crisis. China is reportedly a leading conduit for the illegal sale of the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl. As recently as last month, two Chinese nationals linked to the trade were indicted in the U.S. in connection with that illicit trade.
Trump said he and Xi “discussed how we can better counter the deadly drug trade and to stop the lethal flow of poisonous drugs into our countries and communities. Special emphasis will be placed on fentanyl.”