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posted on 04 April 2017

The First Trump-Xi Meeting

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Shortly after the set-up of his first meeting with Chinese President Xi, President Trump tweeted: "a very difficult meeting next week" (April 6-7).

President Trump is right on in his anticipation. To help him out, let me put the whole thing in perspective, beyond anything you might have seen in the mainstream media (e.g. Trump Anticipates a 'Very Difficult' Meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping).

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1. Why will the meeting be very difficult for President Trump?

Four main reasons:

  1. America does not really understand China.
  2. America does not really understand itself.
  3. President Trump is challenged internationally.
  4. President Trump is particularly challenged on China.

Let me elaborate on each ...

2. America does not really understand China

America, as a country, has been so carried away by American exceptionalism that it has simply failed to recognize the significance of China's astronomical rise over the past three decades ... or has just been in denial.

This recent WSJ article (China's Once and Future Democracy), in anticipation of President Xi's visit, offers a good example: there are many things China can learn from the West, but democracy is not one of them!

Three informative readings about China:

  1. "Communist China", Really?
  2. Chinese Presidency: An Earned Kingship for 10 Years.
  3. The Legitimacy of the Chinese Government.

Three more profound readings about China:

  1. America: What is China, Anyway?
  2. Top 10 American Misconceptions about China (Version 3).
  3. Towards an Ideal Form of Government (Version 3).

Bottom line: China's system (i.e. capitalism and autocracy) is slightly better than ours (i.e. capitalism and democracy)! This is the main reason behind China's astronomical rise over the past the three decades, as well as our steep decline since the turn of the 21st century, at least, with no end in sight.

3. America does not really understand itself

Everything is relative - America was the best, until a new China showed up! In other words, because America does not really understand China, it does not really understand itself!

Specifically, three points:

  1. The post-WWII era was exceptionally good for America. It was an exception, not the rule. Today’s world is closer to norm than that era, as wealth is more widely spread all over the world than mostly concentrated in America.
  2. All other people in the world have the same right as we Americans do, in terms of “inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
  3. The worst enemy against America is America itself!

Three informative readings about today's America:

  1. Democratic Imperialism.
  2. Democratic Socialism.
  3. Democracy - 'End of History', Really?

Three more profound readings about America:

  1. What is America, Anyway (Version 3)?
  2. Top-10 American Misconceptions about America.
  3. America: What Did Our Founding Fathers Do, Actually (Version 3)?

Bottom line: While the 20th century was clearly America's, the 21st century is likely to be China's, unless we, Americans, soon reform our political system, as I have suggested (American Democracy).

4. President Trump is challenged internationally

Donald Trump brilliantly won the 2016 Presidential election via a totally unorthodox campaign. Internationally, however, it is an entirely new game, for which President Trump has yet to be seriously tested.

First off, many of his home-crowd-pleasing campaign positions and slogans will actually work against him internationally. Two examples:

  1. Build the “wall” and have Mexico pay for it. “Are you kidding?” - Asked Mexico.
  2. International trade and jobs: We live in a global world. Shunning from globalization at our own peril!

On the personal level for President Trump, three informative readings:

  1. President Trump vs. President Xi.
  2. President Trump vs. President Putin.
  3. President Trump in the Real World of Three New Kingdoms.

Bottom line: President Trump must prove himself internationally, especially against proven leaders like Russia's Putin and China's Xi!

5. President Trump is particularly challenged on China

China's astronomical rise over the past three decades is perhaps even more exceptional than America. Two facts:

  1. China has the longest continuous civilization in human history. For example, China had the most prominent economy in the world for most of the first 1,800 years of our 2017-year-old current calendar.
  2. Great civilizations come and go, with one exception: China - come, go, and come again.

Very notably, China has a highly functional government that is always "China First", with no need to emphasize it like Donald Trump has been doing in America! The image below highlights the point.

America is "losing" to China because China is competing better. The only way for us to be back in the competition is to become better ourselves, but not by China bashing (China Bashing Is a Bipartisan Sport and It's Back With a Vengeance)!

Three important points:

  1. Jobs: Over the past two decades, America lost more jobs to automation than to outsourcing. The primary reason behind America's outsourcing is that America's cost structure has become too high. The jobs that America "lost to China" would have gone to other places, such as the other BRICS countries, had China not developed over the past three decades.
  2. Trade: We, America, have trade deficits with more than 90 countries. Are we going to argue with each and every one of them about "fairness"? Or, simply face the truth: our cost structure is totally out-of-control.
  3. Currency manipulation: Every country has the right to defend its own currency for its best interests. America has, over the past decade, printed more than $4 trillion, mostly at the expense of our chief creditors (i.e. China, Japan, and Germany).

For more on the subject, read: The U.S. vs. China.

Bottom line: Don't Mess with Nuclear-Armed China! China is smart enough not to militarily mess with the U.S., guaranteed!

6. Discussion

I applaud for the first Trump-Xi meeting and hope for many positive outcomes.

A healthy relationship between the two largest economies in the world is important not only for the two countries, but also for the world.

Unfortunately, China is totally different from the U.S., from history to the form of government. Therefore, it's a real competition for superiority, from the economy to the ideology.

Fortunately for the world, the two countries have been cooperating reasonably well so far. But will that continue under President Trump?

Presidential candidate Donald Trump blamed all the other countries (e.g. Mexico and China) for America's problems (e.g. jobs). Now, President Trump must face the reality, both domestically (e.g. Obamacare) and internationally (e.g. the "wall" and trade).

The image below shows one key difference between China and America.

Apparently, unlike Presidential candidate Trump who wanted to reign in the Military-Industrial Complex (Fixing the Military-Industrial Complex!), President Trump has caved to the neo-cons by increasing our out-of-control military budget by yet another outrageous 10%! In return, the neo-cons have just failed to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, after bitterly complaining about it for seven long years!

It's time for President Trump to govern from the center-right, both domestically and internationally, with sense and achievements!

China is a competitor, not enemy! With enough enemies around the world, from Iraq (e.g. U.S. Airstrikes May Have Killed As Many As 200 Civilians in Mosul) to Syria (e.g. Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad), let’s not make China yet another enemy!

7. Closing

President Trump, please read and listen - Good luck in your meeting with President Xi!

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