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Trump and Xi’s First Meeting

A China in the World Podcast

All eyes are on Mar-a-Lago this week, where Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump will meet for the first time. The summit is expected to be heavy on symbolism rather than on concrete deliverables, but the ability to set a positive tone and foundation for the relationship will nevertheless be significant. Ahead of this meeting, Paul Haenle discussed the Trump administration’s foreign policy in its early months and expected outcomes for the Trump-Xi meeting with Ashley J. Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former special assistant to the president on the National Security Council under George W. Bush.

Tellis says that the United States has three major schools of thought on its role in the world: isolationist, nationalist, and internationalist. President Trump’s campaign platform and “America First” ideology represent a resurgence of the nationalist perspective, according to Tellis. But he says that internationalist members of the Trump administration will present an ongoing struggle to achieve a coherent domestic and foreign policy vision in the years to come. In regards to U.S.-China relations, Tellis says he expects Trump to take a tougher approach on economic and trade relations to follow up on his campaign promises, but that he would not dramatically alter U.S. security and defense policy. Tellis says Xi has two objectives for his first meeting with Trump: recognition of China as a peer and moving Trump to acknowledge the positive aspects of globalization in order to protect China’s unimpeded access to global markets.