China’s Xi, Trump to meet in Florida

Pres­i­dents planning to con­fer at Mar-aLago on April 6-7.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald BEI­JING — Trump will meet with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Xi Jin­ping for the first time April 6 and 7 at Trump’s Florida re­sort, China’s For­eign Min­istry an­nounced Thurs­day, amid a range of press­ing is­sues in­clud­ing trade, North Korea and ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes in the South China Sea.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 economies has been un­cer­tain fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Trump, who ac­cused China dur­ing his cam­paign of un­fair trade prac­tices and threat­ened to raise im­port taxes on Chi­nese goods and de­clare Bei­jing a cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tor.

It is un­clear whether Trump will fol­low through with ei­ther threat. He is now seek­ing Bei­jing’s help in pres­sur­ing North Korea over its nu­clear weapons and mis­siles pro­grams. China is North Korea’s most im­por­tant source of diplo­matic sup­port and eco­nomic as­sis­tance.

In Fe­bru­ary, Trump reaf­firmed Wash­ing­ton’s long-stand­ing “one China” pol­icy in a call with Xi, in an ap­par­ent move to ease con­cerns in China that he might use Tai­wan as lever­age in ne­go­ti­a­tions over trade, se­cu­rity and other sen­si­tive is­sues. The pol­icy in place since 1979 re­quires Wash­ing­ton to main­tain only un­of­fi­cial ties with Tai­wan, which China claims as its own ter­ri­tory.

A state­ment from the White House said the two lead­ers will dis­cuss global, re­gional and bi­lat­eral is­sues of mu­tual con­cern. Pres­i­dent Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump will host Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan at a din­ner Thurs­day evening, it added.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Lu Kang told re­porters that Xi would meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, with­out pro­vid­ing any more de­tails.

It is the same Florida re­sort where Trump hosted and played golf with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in Fe­bru­ary. Xi, a fan of soc­cer and other sports, is not known to play golf.

Re­la­tions be­tween China and the U.S. un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama were strained by is­sues in­clud­ing China’s mil­i­tary island-build­ing in wa­ters sur­round­ing in­ter­na­tional ship­ping lanes in the South China Sea, al­le­ga­tions of cy­ber­hack­ing and a U.S. pol­icy re­bal­ance to Asia.

De­spite that, co­op­er­a­tion be­tween their mil­i­taries ex­panded ten­ta­tively, and China’s de­fense min­istry Thurs­day hailed fur­ther growth, while warn­ing of po­ten­tial fric­tions ahead.

“We are will­ing to make joint ef­forts with the U.S. side ... so as to main­tain a sta­ble mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship while striv­ing to make new gains,” spokesman Col. Wu Qian said.

How­ever, Wu also re­it­er­ated China’s op­po­si­tion to the de­ploy­ment of a so­phis­ti­cated mis­sile de­fense sys­tem in South Korea, known as THAAD, which Bei­jing says threat­ens its own se­cu­rity with its abil­ity to mon­i­tor flights and mis­sile launches.

“The de­ploy­ment of the THAAD sys­tem will def­i­nitely not make (South Korea) any safer. And se­condly, the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s op­po­si­tion to the THAAD sys­tem will def­i­nitely not be con­fined to just words,” Wu said.

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