Trump, Xi look to navigate minefield in first summit

The stage is set for a carefully choreographed dinners with family and displays of bonhomie, but beneath the facade runs a wary, almost palpable, anxiety -- as the men face a make or break moment.

Trump, Xi look to navigate minefield in first summit

World Bulletin / News Desk

Donald Trump hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at his sun-kissed Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Thursday, a high-stakes first summit replete with pitfalls for both leaders.

Xi is arriving at the resort 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.

In return, he hopes to get assurances from Trump on American sales of arms to the island, as well as trade.

But what Trump wants is less clear. 

No one -- neither diplomats nor aides -- can be sure what will happen when the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation meets a mercurial American president who has been in office less than 100 days and is capable of unravelling the most carefully-laid plans with a single 140-character tweet.

The stakes, both domestic and international, are high.

Disagreements over approaches to North Korea or bilateral trade could, if mishandled, destabilise North East Asia or tank the global economy.

On the domestic front, Xi is heading into a critical political meeting later this year. He needs to show that he can deal with the US leader as an equal and eliminate the potential for unwelcome surprises in the run-up to the event that could assure his power for years to come.

He "cannot afford to lose face while China aspires to be the new centre of gravity for the world order," China political analyst Willy Lam told AFP.

Meanwhile, Trump -- who is reeling from legislative defeats, low approval ratings and unrelenting scandals -- desperately needs a win. 

He may not have much room to maneuver, however, with a country he has castigated for "stealing" American jobs and doing "little" to rein in North Korea's nuclear program.

Even the two leaders "want to project themselves as very forceful, very decisive and also getting the best for the benefit of their own countries, they are also anxious not to get into difficult negotiating positions," according to Lam.

Last Mod: 06 Nisan 2017, 12:04
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