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The 3 Things Trump and Xi Must Focus on at the G20

December 1, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The much-anticipated bilateral session between President Donald
Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping at the G-20 meeting in
Buenos Aires has created a rather unique situation. There appears
to be more attention to that “sideline”
encounter than to the G-20 event itself. The prevailing assumption
is that the bilateral encounter is more significant, and
may represent the last opportunity to head off a full-blown trade
war between the United States and China that threatens to derail
the global economy.

There is no question that the trade issue is important, and that
both countries have engaged in dangerous posturing by implementing
escalating rounds of tariffs. However, there are two problems with
focusing so heavily on the trade issue as the central topic for
discussion between the two leaders. First, the bilateral economic
relationship is extremely complex, involving not only obvious
issues such as tariffs, but related matters including China’s
currency policies and Beijing’s stance regarding intellectual
property rights. Although a summit meeting might result in modest
progress on such differences, a true breakthrough on those issues
is unlikely from a single meeting, no matter how high level.
Observers may be investing too much hope in the outcome of the
summit despite the growing trade confrontation between the two
economic giants.

Second, the trade issue (and even the broader economic
relationship) is not the only worrisome source of trouble in the
bilateral relationship. The two leaders need to address their
differences on at least three important security matters: North
Korea, the South China Sea and Taiwan. Trends on all three topics
are increasingly troubling, if not alarming.

The widespread optimism that prevailed following President
Trump’s June 2018 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
in Singapore has faded markedly. Washington still insists that
North Korea must embrace complete denuclearization as the outcome of the
diplomatic process. A growing number of experts in the United
States and elsewhere conclude that such an objective is unrealistic , and that if Washington clings
to that position, a peaceful solution is not possible. Trump and Xi
should have a candid discussion about how to avoid such a
disastrous impasse.

The United States needs to exhibit more realism about the
denuclearization issue and display a greater willingness to proceed
toward more limited goals, such as negotiating a peace treaty
formally ending the Korean War, establishing diplomatic relations
with Pyongyang and extending the informal mutual moratorium on
North Korean nuclear and missile tests and U.S.-South Korean
military exercises. China needs to make clear what measures it is
willing to take to leash its North Korean client if America pursues
such conciliatory initiatives. Beyond that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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