Donald Trump heaps praise on Xi Jinping, makes no breakthrough on North Korea or trade

Donald Trump heaps praise on Xi Jinping, makes no breakthrough on North Korea or trade

Donald Trump heaps praise on Xi Jinping, makes no breakthrough on North Korea or trade

Updated 10 November 2017, 16:15 AEDT

Donald Trump receives one of the best welcomes a United States president has received in recent decades, but there has been no breakthrough on key issues including North Korea's nuclear program and trade.

The Chinese described Donald Trump's visit as "State Plus" and it was one of the best welcomes a United States president had received in recent decades, complete with brass bands, enthusiastic children bearing American flags and a 21-gun salute.

Key points:

  • Mr Xi offered Mr Trump $320 billion in business deals
  • Mr Trump called trade imbalance one-sided, unfair and demanded concrete actions
  • Mr Xi reiterated China's position negotiation is only way to resolve North Korea crisis

At the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, where the talks took place, it was praise all round.

Mr Trump constantly referred to President Xi Jinping as a great friend, and the Chinese people should be proud to have him as their leader. Mr Trump seemed as adept at flattery as the Chinese.

But despite all the warm words and talk of a growing bromance between the world's most powerful men there was no real progress on the key issues of America's massive trade imbalance or how to stop North Korea's nuclear program.

Mr Xi offered Mr Trump a whopping $320 billion in business deals to placate Mr Trump's anger about the trade deficit, which last year was $450 million.

Mr Trump took the deal, but he didn't take the bait — and in fact hit back hard.

In front of Mr Xi and his vast entourage, in blunt words and delivery, Mr Trump said it was just a start and much more needed to be done.

He called the trade imbalance one sided and unfair and demanded concrete actions. Mr Trump told the audience, "We must immediately address restrictive trade practices and restrictive markets" if the two countries were to have a good future.

He wanted measures put in place to protect American intellectual property rights as well.

No breakthrough on North Korea, trade imbalance

Mr Trump was talking tough but he didn't go all the way.

He put the blame on previous US administrations and didn't begrudge China for taking advantage of the situation.

The disputes over the lack of free and fair trade American firms have been receiving in China has been going for decades and Thursday was but just another episode. It is situation normal, nothing has changed on this key point of conflict.

And the same for North Korea nuclear crisis despite all the fiery rhetoric from Mr Trump and tensions over the past several months. There was no breakthrough or new plan — the situation unchanged.

Mr Trump came to China to try and squeeze concession from Mr Xi on North Korea but he left the negotiations empty-handed.

At the press conference after the meetings, Mr Xi just reiterated China's position, "Negotiation and dialogue is the only way to solve the crisis" and, "China is fully implementing UN sanctions".

And on North Korea, Mr Trump needs action from Mr Xi more than ever.

A grand bargain has to be struck between the superpowers

Last week, the Pentagon handed down its official assessment to Mr Trump, saying to rid North Korea of weapons of mass destruction — both nuclear and biological — a ground invasion was the only option.

The US joint Chiefs of Staffs warned this would be a disaster with the potential loss of millions of lives at a cost of billions of dollars.

They were clear in advising the US President that a mixture of tough diplomacy and sanctions was the best option.

China won't move on the issue until it feels its interests have been adhered too. China fears a humanitarian disaster on its doorstop if it was to cut all trade it has with North Korea, and in a bigger strategic sense it does not want the possibility of an American-backed regime replace its old ally.

It seems a grand bargain has to be stuck here between the two superpowers of what comes next after Kim Jong-un in the event of regime change.

Interests from both sides have to be accommodated but it's obvious from Thursday's outcome that Mr Xi and Mr Trump haven't gone there yet.