China’s President Xi Jinping will limit his US visit next month to Palm Beach, Florida, and local media are reporting that Xi won’t stay at Mar-a-Lago, US President Donald Trump’s exclusive Palm Beach residence.
A US Secret Service spokesperson, who didn’t want to be identified, confirmed that Xi and his delegation would be in Palm Beach on April 6 and 7 for meetings with Trump, and that the Chinese president has no other US stops planned.
The spokesperson declined to confirm reports from CNBC and The Palm Beach Post that China’s president will stay at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa during his stay in Palm Beach.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson helped to lay the groundwork for the upcoming summit during meetings in Beijing with Xi and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 18 and 19. Neither the White House nor the State Department have yet confirmed any details of Xi’s visit.
Trump has largely ceased the antagonistic approach he took toward China during and immediately after the US presidential campaign, including his questioning of the one-China policy, a central tenet of stable US-China relations, and his threats to label China a currency manipulator. Analysts say this may help set the stage for a productive meeting.
“The US China relationship is one of the most important economic relationships out there,” Joel Backaler, a Managing Director at Frontier Strategy Group, and author of China Goes West, a book about Chinese companies going global. “Regardless of who’s advising him, Trump must recognise that, and that is potentially why they are meeting so soon and why we’ll hopefully see more progress and collaboration between the two sides.”
Details of next month’s summit follows Trump’s failure last week to corral enough votes in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a major piece of health care legislation passed by his predecessor. Trump made repeal of Barack Obama’s signature health care reform a key election pledge to his supporters, and is now turning to tax code reform and other priorities.
“Often presidents look to foreign affairs to make achievements they can’t achieve domestically,” Dr David Lampton at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said in an interview before Tuesday’s announcement. Trump “may be looking for an opportunity to look presidential.”
While Trump has softened his tone on China, tensions between the two nations over a range of strategic and security issues, primarily differing strategies towards North Korea and disputes over islands China claims in the South China Sea, remain. Tillerson and his Chinese hosts sidestepped discussion of these issues during the Secretary of State’s trip to Beijing.
Trump may also need to address discontent from business groups about restrictions foreign companies face in China and preferential treatment of Chinese companies on their home turf.
The US Chamber of Commerce has criticised China’s 10-year plan to boost innovation in 10 strategic sectors by highlighting how 2.2 trillion yuan (US$318 billion) worth of state-directed capital and a raft of national security regulations associated with the programme are benefitting Chinese companies like smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.
China’s State Council announced its “Made in China 2025” plan, also known as MIC 2025, in May 2015, identifying 10 priority sectors including robotics, Internet of Things, aviation, and biomedicine.
Xi met former President Obama nine times since the Chinese leader took office in 2012. During their last meeting, wherein the two sides discussed human rights, state-sponsored hacking and territorial and maritime disputes involving China, Xi praised Obama for strengthening Sino-US relations.
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