US President Donald Trump will have something to boast about after ending his Asia visit on Tuesday – but not much.
Firstly, after this trip, Trump will realise that Chinese President Xi Jinping, despite his calm and humble demeanour, is the world’s most powerful leader at the moment.
In the US, Trump himself is facing a Congressional probe and Special Counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential election campaign that resulted in his winning the election in November 2016. The final outcome of these wide-ranging probes could put Trump’s presidency in peril.
Secondly, the US president’s attempt to persuade China to force North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal will be politely listened to by Chinese leaders – but not followed.
President Trump should have sent a special emissary to China in advance of his trip – in the same manner President Richard Nixon dispatched Henry Kissinger to pave the way for the establishment of Sino-US diplomatic relations prior to Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.
That would have resulted in much better cooperation from China. After all, that is how proper and professional diplomacy is done.
Lastly, leading US officials and business CEOs to sign agreements for China to buy $250 billion of American products is just a piecemeal and short-term bilateral trade solution.
In the long run, China will remain just as strong and aggressive in its global trading practices, including those it conducts with the US.
Hence, Trump has achieved no long-term solutions on his Asia trip.