President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump officially welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan to Mar-a-Lago. Melania wore a beautiful red dress and looked stunning!
They began their evening by lounging in Mar-a-Lago’s formal living room ahead of a formal dinner:
Talks will continue up to a working lunch on Friday, that are likely to turn to more serious issues.
The summit has been somewhat overshadowed by renewed missile tests in North Korea and an apparent chemical attack in Syria that could prompt US military action.
The UN Security Council — where both China and the United States hold a veto — is expected to meet later to discuss a response to Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime.
No one — neither diplomats nor aides — could be sure what would happen when the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation met a mercurial American president who has been in office less than 100 days and is capable of unraveling the most carefully-laid plans with a single 140-character tweet.
For that reason Xi arrived with a gift-basket of “tweetable deliverables”, sources say, peace offerings on Trump’s signature issues — trade and jobs — that he hopes will smooth over a relationship that began on shaky ground following disagreements over Taiwan.
Top of the list, according to a source briefed on Xi’s plans, will be a package of Chinese investments aimed at creating more than 700,000 American jobs — the number pledged to Trump by China’s regional rival Japan, during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s February Mar-a-Lago visit.
There may also be offers to further open China’s auto and agricultural markets, insiders say, and even some concessions on Chinese banks’ transactions with North Korea, a vital financial lifeline for the country.
In return, Xi hopes to get assurances from Trump on punitive tariffs and that an American arms sale to Taiwan will be delayed, at least until after a major Communist Party meeting later this year.
Trump’s position on democratically-ruled Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, has been a major irritant since the billionaire politician accepted a protocol-breaking phone call from the Taiwanese president after his election victory.
The summit stakes, both domestic and international, are high.
Disagreements over approaches to North Korea or bilateral trade could, if mishandled, destabilize North East Asia or tank the global economy.
On the domestic political front, Xi is heading into a critical year. Ahead of a party congress that could cement his grip on power for years to come, he needs to show that he can deal with the US leader as an equal.
He “cannot afford to lose face while China aspires to be the new center of gravity for the world order,” China political analyst Willy Lam told AFP.
On the US side, however, North Korea will likely top the agenda following Wednesday’s provocative missile launch.
The Trump White House worries Pyongyang is just months away from marrying nuclear and long-range missile technology and putting the west coast of the United States within striking distance.
While Beijing has condemned the missile tests, it has hesitated to take dramatic action against Pyongyang, fearing that the country’s collapse would generate a flood of refugees across its borders and leave the US military on its doorstep.
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