Balance of Power: Tough-Talker Trump Settles for China’s Warm Words

Eurasia's Bremmer Calls Trump's Asia Trip a Success

For all of Donald Trump’s tough China campaign talk, the U.S. president is leaving his first visit to Beijing with little to show for it but handshakes and warm words with Xi Jinping.

Trump’s big get — 15 deals totaling as much as a quarter-trillion dollars — provided tweetable headlines and dents in the U.S. trade deficit. But many were non-binding and may never happen, and didn't offer the policy changes American executives want to lower investment barriers.

Trump — who backed off a vow to label China a currency manipulator — touted his “very good chemistry” with Xi after an opera trip and dinner in the Forbidden City. “I don't blame China,” he said, faulting “past administrations” for letting China get ahead. A top Trump administration official said the rapport would help solve bigger problems in the future.

Xi, meanwhile, gave little ground, saying China would open its market on its own “timetable and roadmap.” There was no North Korea breakthrough either. The Chinese president pledged only continued UN sanctions. 

Ex-U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman suggested a confrontation might be looming over trade. “There’s some view that they’re waiting for this trip to be over before they take action,” he said.

Xi and Trump attend a welcoming ceremony in Beijing.
Photographer: Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac

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— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter, Chris Fournier, and Karl Maier

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