April 06, 2017

When Trump Meets Xi: Prepare for the Opening Gambit

By Patrick M. Cronin

The first summit meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is the beginning of a process, punctuated by serious issues, separated by distinctly different negotiating styles. With these points in mind, the new American president can use the Mar-a-Lago meeting to set the tone and tenor of U.S.-China relations, kick start fairer trade, highlight some critical security priorities, and avoid falling prey to either the hubris that can afflict any summiteer or the traps set by Chinese tactics.

For all the buildup of this inaugural meeting, it is important to remember that diplomacy has more to do with managing relations over time than producing singular and monumental deals. The Mar-a-Lago summit represents the opening gambit—not the closing move—between Presidents Trump and Xi.

The U.S.-China informal encounter brings together the leaders of the most consequential of major-power relations in this decade and decades to come. But just because it is important does not mean it will lead to either a breakthrough or a breakdown in bilateral relations. A single summit seldom achieves the lofty altitude intimated by the word.

Read the full article at The National Interest.

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