Trump Accepts Xi’s Invitation to Visit Beijing This Year
U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to make a state visit Beijing this year, although no date has been set.
The news came in a briefing Friday by three U.S. Cabinet secretaries as Trump and Xi met at Trump’s resort home, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and was confirmed by Chinese state media. No other details were released.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told reporters that the United States had a 100-day action plan on trade with China. He said the plan was “speedy” and included “way stations of accomplishment,” but offered few other details.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the two leaders discussed North Korea and agreed that the issue of its arms buildup had reached a very serious stage. Tillerson said the two sides shared a commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and agreed to increase cooperation to that end.
Questioned about U.S. airstrikes on Syria, Tillerson said Trump personally informed Xi about the strikes near the end of Thursday’s dinner, telling him how many missiles had been launched and the rationale behind the strike.
It was unclear as to what extent the issue of human rights in China was discussed, a subject the United States has pressed in such meetings in previous administrations.
Asked about this, Tillerson told reporters at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, “I don’t think you have to have a separate conversation, somehow separate our core values around human rights from our economic discussions, our military-to-military discussions, or our foreign policy discussions. They’re really embedded in every discussion. That is really what guides much of our view around how we’re going to work together.”
A statement later Friday from White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump, in his talks with Xi, “also noted the importance of protecting human rights and other values deeply held by Americans.”
Earlier Friday, Trump told reporters he’d made “tremendous progress” with Xi during their talks and added that he thought “lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away” as a result of good relations between the two countries.
“The relationship developed by President Xi and myself, I think, is outstanding,” Trump said, adding, “We look forward to being together many times in the future.”
Xi said he’d received a warm reception from the Trump administration and that the two sides came to “many understandings” after holding “in-depth and lengthy communications.”
The Chinese president told reporters there were “a thousand reasons to make the China-U.S. relationship work, and no reason to break it.”
He called for expanded cooperation between Beijing and Washington in addressing global challenges, such as weapons nonproliferation and crime that crosses international borders.
Before the two leaders’ talks, Trump said the roughly $310 billion U.S. trade deficit with China was high on the agenda. He also said he and members of his administration had made it clear they hoped to pressure Beijing into doing more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.
Trump said the two issues were linked. “They really do mix,” he said.
China supplies North Korea with almost all its fuel oil, imported foods, consumer goods and the raw materials used to construct its weapons.
Dissatisfaction with Kim
But China also has grown weary of the militaristic aspirations of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has not visited Beijing — Pyongyang’s closest ally — during his six-year rule. A series of U.N. sanctions against North Korea have not deterred it from a string of missile tests, the latest of which came this week.
Several protests were held in Florida during Xi’s visit. One was organized by the Vietnamese Community of Central Florida. The group’s president, An Chau, told VOA’s Vietnamese service that it was one of the largest protests put on by the group, with more than 500 people taking part.
He said a smaller group of several dozen people counterprotested and voiced support for Xi.
Khanh An of VOA’s Vietnamese service contributed to this report.