Trade, North Korea pose challenges as Trump prepares to meet China's Xi
U.S. President Donald Trump holds his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday facing pressure to deliver trade concessions for some of his most fervent supporters and prevent a crisis with North Korea from spiraling out of control.
The leaders of the world's two biggest economies are to greet each other at the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, late in the afternoon and dine together with their wives, kicking off a summit that will conclude with a working lunch on Friday.
Trump promised during the 2016 campaign to stop what he called the theft of American jobs by China and rebuild the country's manufacturing base. Many blue-collar workers helped propel him to his unexpected election victory on Nov. 8 and Trump wants to deliver for them.
The Republican president tweeted last week that the United States could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses and that his meeting with Xi "will be a very difficult one."
Trump, a former real estate magnate is still finding his footing in the White House and has yet to spell out a strategy for what his advisers called a trade relationship based on "the principal of reciprocity."
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White House officials have set low expectations for the meeting, saying it will set the foundation for future dealings.
U.S. labor leaders say Trump needs to take a direct, unambiguous tone in his talks with Xi.
"President Trump needs to come away from the meeting with concrete deliverables that will restore production and employment here in the U.S. in those sectors that have been ravaged by China's predatory and protectionist practices," said Holly Hart, legislative director for the United Steelworkers union.
International Association of Machinists President Robert Martinez said the United States continued to lose manufacturing jobs to the Chinese, saying: "It's time to bring our jobs home now."
Some Democratic lawmakers were eager to pounce on Trump on trade.
"We are eager to understand your plans to correct our current China trade policies and steer a new course," said Democratic U.S. Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.
The summit will bring together two leaders who could not seem more different: the often stormy Trump, prone to angry tweets, and Xi, outwardly calm, measured and tightly scripted, with no known social media presence.
What worries the protocol-conscious Chinese more than policy clashes is the risk that the unpredictable Trump could publicly embarrass Xi, after several foreign leaders experienced awkward moments with the new U.S. president.
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