One of the reasons we highlight the full transcripts of President Trump’s comments, when available, is because within any back-and-forth you can often notice a signal. This past week was no different.
Here’s the off-topic transcript:
Q Mr. President, are you thinking of adding on a meeting with Xi Jinping on the back end or the front end of the meeting with Kim?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I’m thinking about it.
Q How close are you —
THE PRESIDENT: I mean, some of you were there yesterday. We had an incredible meeting yesterday with the Vice Premier of China — a very powerful man, highly respected. Very strong. Very respected, also, by the President — President Xi. And we had an amazing meeting on trade — mostly on trade. Actually, also on fentanyl. China has agreed to criminalize fentanyl. That’s going to have a huge impact on fentanyl coming into the country.
There is a possibility we’ll meet somewhere, whether it’s there — I’m over in a certain location. I’ll be over in a certain location there, as you know.
Q So you might do —
THE PRESIDENT: That’ll be announced officially probably next week.
Q So you might do two —
THE PRESIDENT: It could happen. It could happen.
The President then made a joke to turn attention away from the answer. However, if you’ve followed the U.S. -vs- DPRK -vs- China discussions, you’ll note an alignment.
The meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un is scheduled around the very end of February. The China tariff deadline, relating to Chairman Xi, is March 2nd, a few days later.
We can see why strategically POTUS scheduled the Kim summit at the same time as the U.S-China tariffs were scheduled to merge. The announcement of the Kim (DPRK) meeting negated Xi’s continual dragon-moves (leverage) during trade negotiations for the period of late January through end February.
Beijing (Xi) cannot tell Pyongyang (Kim) to do anything stupid while President Trump and Chairman Kim are planning their summit. This strategic approach bought the U.S. trade negotiation team elbow room; where they didn’t have to worry about any confrontational face-to-face tone resulting in Beijing launching their proxy province, the DPRK, into hostilities. It was smart geopolitical timing by President Trump.
However, after the Chinese trade delegation and U.S. team met to discuss terms; concrete deliverables (Wed/Thur); and after the meeting with China’s Vice Premier Liu He (Thursday night); we now see President Trump discussing a meeting with Chairman Xi Jinping during the same trip he will be making for the Chairman Kim summit.
POTUS Trump would not be entertaining a meeting with Xi, if the Wed/Thr discussions, and the Thursday night meeting (Liu He), were not fruitful.
Think about it.
President Trump would not be pondering, let alone mentioning, a meeting with Chairman Xi Jinping to happen at the exact moment he is executing the second phase tariffs against China.
Remember, if a structurally substantive agreement, that includes specific deliverables and way-points, is not reached by March 2nd, President Trump will raise tariffs on $200 billion of goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.
So if President Trump is signaling (which he is) the likelihood of a meeting with Chairman Xi on the heels of his second summit with Chairman Kim, then the structure of the U.S-China trade negotiations by U.S.T.R. Robert Lighthizer must be pretty well cemented.
If there was no substantive progress in the discussions between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Chinese counterpart Vice Premier Liu He; and if there was no positive direction being carried into the oval office meeting with VP Liu He; then there would not be any contemplation of a meeting between Chairman Xi and President Trump.
But there is…. so there is.