Expectations for Trump-Xi Meeting During G-20 Summit

By Kitty Wang

President Trump will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in what is possibly the most important meeting outside the G-20 summit. The main themes at the upcoming summit include: the global economy, trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy. This year’s host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, especially wants to promote the digital economy and free flow of data based on trust.

At the same time, Trump and Xi’s meeting will be closely watched by the international community. The international market will be particularly attentive to the results of the meeting, which comes amid the U.S.-China trade war. It will be watching to see whether the U.S. will impose tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese goods.

Matthew Goodman, senior adviser for Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “The most likely outcome is that they’re going to reach some sort of accommodation or truce like that, and push this forward. It’s not gonna solve the immediate problems, and even once they reach that deal, as any China economic analysts will tell you, it’s very unlikely to solve—even if we get a deal—it’s unlikely to solve some of the deep structural differences.”

Xi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently, and also visited North Korea. This was regarded as Xi’s effort to gain more leverage before his meeting with Trump.

China has stressed that there will be no compromise on so-called “principle issues.” However, the U.S. Department of Commerce just added five Chinese companies to its export control Entity List last Friday, indicating that the United States’s tough stance against China has not changed at all.

According to Reuters, some senior U.S. officials have said that Washington hopes to re-start trade talks with China, but will not accept any conditions on the United States’s use of tariffs in the dispute.

“Some of our differences are very deep and structural,” Goodman said. “I think it’s hard to see how any trade deal is going to fundamentally resolve those issues, so I think we’re going to be in this economic competition for many years to come.”

U.S. Vice President Pence was scheduled to make his second speech on China policy June 24, but it was postponed to avoid adding more tension before the two leaders’ meeting.

Michael Green, senior Vice President for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “I think the Vice President’s speeches are primarily aimed at mobilizing public opinion, corporate opinion, around the China challenge they articulated in the National Security Strategy of 2017 and it’s very deliberate. Is suspect the speech postponed, not canceled, because it’s part of a campaign.”