President Trump Continues Asia Trip With Meetings, State Banquet In Japan

Nov 5, 2017
Originally published on November 5, 2017 9:32 pm
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NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump is in Tokyo with a full day of meetings and events scheduled for him. That's including a state banquet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Now, this is the beginning of a multi-day trip through Asia that will include stops in Seoul, South Korea, and Beijing, China. President Trump is also heading to Vietnam and the Philippines. NPR's Anthony Kuhn is in Beijing. He's here with us to talk about Trump's agenda. Hi, Anthony.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Hi.

KING: So, Anthony, aboard Air Force One, Trump said he's in a strong position going to his meeting with China's leader, Xi Jinping. What did they mean by that?

KUHN: Yeah. Well, he came back to speak to reporters on Air Force One, and he was asked, you know, everybody sees that President Xi Jinping came out of a recent party congress the strongest any Chinese leader has been in decades. And really, a lot of what Trump's agenda has on it, particularly North Korea and trade, is going to depend on what Xi Jinping gives him.

And judging from his recent speeches, Xi is very confident. But President Trump said, now, wait a minute. I'm in a strong position too. The U.S. stock market is way up, unemployment is down and we've got ISIS on the run. Of course, he made no mention of the Mueller investigation into possible collusion with Russia. But it was an interesting point, and I think analysts are saying that Xi Jinping is probably going to try to give Trump a lot of face, give him concessions without really making any substantial - substantive policy changes.

KING: Let's talk about trade for a second, that is obviously a big thing on the agenda for this trip. What does Trump want on trade and can he get it?

KUHN: Well, one thing will be easy to get and that will be business deals. He'll be bringing a large delegation of corporate executives, and they'll be likely to sign some memorandums of understanding, some business deals. That happens on most trips. The bigger issue is that U.S. firms want more access to the Chinese market. And Xi Jinping has, indeed, promised to foreign executives as recently as Monday that he will open China wider to the outside world and that he'll give these foreign companies a square deal. At the same time, Xi Jinping is clearly saying that the Communist Party is going to stay in charge of the economy. The role of the market will be limited. And the government will be supporting and protecting domestic firms against foreign competition.

KING: The other big thing on the agenda for this trip, obviously, is North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Who will Trump be talking to about those, and what do we expect those conversations to be like?

KUHN: Well, he really is going to try to hammer this home with Xi Jinping and with other heads of state. But again, you know, they really believe that China has the most influence and the most leverage to bear because it does the most trade with North Korea. And the Trump administration has praised China for the way it's implemented U.N. sanctions on the North, cutting trade and oil and coal and banking ties with the North, but it thinks China can and must do more.

But China is unlikely to cut off all trade. It's going to allow some for what it calls humanitarian reasons. And it'll apply sanctions so as to comply with the U.N. resolutions, but it will not go beyond those as the U.S. wants. And it will not comply with U.S. unilateral sanctions. It will also not try to do anything that destabilizes the regime in Pyongyang or provoke the North so that regime, the Kim Jong Un regime, turns openly hostile towards Beijing.

KING: Anthony, President Trump also threw in a bit of a surprise today. He said he's adding an extra day at the end of this already long trip. He's going to be going to the Philippines. Why is that?

KUHN: Well, he's going to stay that extra day to attend a regional meeting known as the East Asia Summit, which is mostly a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders. And there was concern in Southeast Asia that by not attending this summit, he was showing that Southeast Asia is just not important to the U.S. But it really is a very important part of their Asia strategy. He was criticized that he had time to play golf with Japan's prime minister but not attend the summit. So he changed his mind, and he's staying an extra day in Manila.

KING: NPR's Anthony Kuhn, thank you so much.

KUHN: You bet, Noel. Take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.