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Trump Talks Tough on China Ahead of Meeting with Xi


A Chinese magazine poster showing U.S. President Donald Trump is displayed at a newsstand in Shanghai, China March 21, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week for talks expected to focus on trade and North Korea.

The meeting will be held Thursday and Friday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in the southern U.S. state of Florida.

Difficult trade talks

Trump was highly critical of China during his presidential campaign and has continued to make strong statements in office. He has accused China of unfair trade practices and undervaluing its currency.

Chinese officials have said they do not want a trade war to break out over possible changes in U.S. trade policies.

Last week, Trump tweeted that his upcoming meeting with Xi would be “a very difficult one.” He said the U.S. “can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses.” This is in keeping with the president’s pledge after taking office to put “America first” in many policies, including trade and foreign affairs.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted several other “big problems” between the U.S. and China. He cited Chinese activities in the South China Sea and the North Korean nuclear dispute.

“There are big issues of national and economic security that need to get addressed, and I think there’s going to be a lot on the table when it comes to that over the two days that they will talk.”

China has warned the U.S. not to get involved in its disputes with other nations over the South China Sea. Chinese officials have also strongly condemned the deployment of the American-built THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea. The deployment came after North Korea carried out a number of missile tests.

In this photo provided by U.S. Forces Korea, trucks carrying parts of U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrive at Osan air base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, March 6, 2017.

In this photo provided by U.S. Forces Korea, trucks carrying parts of U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrive at Osan air base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, March 6, 2017.

North Korea nuclear development

Many security experts believe China will have to be an important partner with Washington in efforts to make progress on North Korea.

In an interview with Britain’s Financial Times newspaper, Trump noted that China has “great influence” over North Korea. While he hopes China will cooperate on North Korea, he said if Beijing is not willing to help resolve the problem, “we will.”

Trump also warned that if North Korea’s fast advancing nuclear and missile capabilities are allowed to continue, “it won't be good for anyone.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 7, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 7, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urged China to take steps to show it is serious about North Korea and stop making "excuses that they're concerned, too."

“They need to show us how concerned they are. They need to put pressure on North Korea. The only country that can stop North Korea is China," Haley told ABC television's This Week.

Economic sanctions and international negotiations have failed over the years to persuade North Korea to stop its missile building and nuclear development.

It is possible that Trump will seek a deal with Xi that involves both trade and security issues, according to Bong Young-shik, a professor of North Korean studies at Yonsei University in Seoul.

“So the question is whether Washington is willing to, and able to, make concessions giving Beijing enough incentives so that the Chinese government will make a fundamental shift in its dealings with the leadership in Pyongyang.”

In the Financial Times interview, Trump said trade will be the main incentive the U.S. will use in negotiations with China.

Last month during a visit to South Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said all options regarding North Korea were being considered, including possible military action.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at at the Great Hall of the People on March 19, 2017 in Beijing, China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at at the Great Hall of the People on March 19, 2017 in Beijing, China.

James Nolt is a political and economic expert with the World Policy Institute. He says the U.S. may decide that military strikes against North Korea are an acceptable risk to maintain U.S. security.

“I think that is a very plausible action because it doesn’t look necessarily warlike. It looks like a relatively reasonable response to a threat, and yet undoubtedly from North Korea it’s going to look like it’s very provocative.”

Yun Sun is with the Stimson Center policy institute in Washington, D.C. She told VOA she believes China will send Xi to the United States with a “generous gift package” in hand.

This package could include a large commitment for Chinese investment in building roads and bridges in the U.S. Yun said this could be a good political move for both China and Trump, who has called for major projects to create American jobs.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press, Reuters and other sources. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

deficitn. amount of something that is less than the amount needed

concession n. giving in to something to reach agreement

incentiven. thing that encourages a person to do something

shift n. change in position or direction

plausibleadj. possibly true

provocativeadj. causing discussion, thought or argument

generousadj. giving freely of money, time or other things

commitmentn. promise to do or give something

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