Thursday 21 September 2017

Trump to ease China tensions by inviting leader to resort

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on healthcare in the White House
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on healthcare in the White House

Neil Connor in Beijing

DONALD TRUMP will host Chinese president Xi Jinping at his resort in Florida next month, in what would be an informal, relaxed first meeting between the world's two most powerful leaders.

The choice of setting suggests Mr Trump is keen to ease tensions after an election campaign in which he railed against cheap Chinese imports and Beijing's muscular stance in the South China Sea. But it will also raise questions about whether the president's own club, filled with well-heeled guests, is the appropriate place for sensitive discussions.

The two-day meeting at Mr Trump's exclusive Mar-a-Lago club is tentatively scheduled for April 6-7, according to US reports. The provisional schedule suggests the two leaders will not be playing golf, which is just as well given that China's Communist Party has banned officials from indulging in the sport during office hours.

US presidential spokesman Sean Spicer would not confirm the timing or location of the meeting.

"It's the purpose of that kind of a meeting to help defuse tensions over North Korea and the recent deployment of a Thaad military battery to South Korea," he said.

Mr Xi is not the first leader to be treated to a summit in the sun. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe played golf there with the US president last month.

The proceedings may be frostier this time. Mr Trump enraged Beijing by accepting a congratulatory call from the president of Taiwan in December.

Read more: Pro-Trump press tells lies - here's how traditional media can fight it

He also suggested a review of the One China policy, in which the US recognises there is one China and Taiwan is part of that. Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Mr Trump also criticised China's increasing military assertiveness in the South China Sea and for not doing enough to rein in North Korea. However, tensions eased last month when Mr Trump recommitted to the One China policy in a phone call with Mr Xi, the first since he took office, and a meeting in Washington with Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi.

The meeting will intensify scrutiny of Mr Trump's business links with China. Yesterday it emerged that the family of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive €380m from a property deal with a Chinese company.

The €3.8bn transaction involves Anbang Insurance Group investing in the Kushner family's struggling skyscraper on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

Telegraph.co.uk

Editors Choice

Also in World News