In 2015, Donald Trump said that Chinese President Xi Jinping should be given a “double-sized Big Mac” instead of a state dinner during his visit to the White House. Yesterday, Trump treated Xi to a lavish dinner at the “Winter White House” with no Mickey D’s on the menu.
Though that doesn’t the mean the meet-and-greet was without its surprises. Just an hour after Xi left Mar-a-Lago for the night, Trump announced that he had ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airfield.
Following his visit to Finland, Xi arrived in Palm Beach, Florida early on Thursday afternoon where he was greeted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and some members of his personal fan club.
At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the two leaders posed for pictures together with their wives Peng Liyuan and Melania Trump.
Of course, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were also there, along with their Chinese-speaking children.
While Trump had predicted the summit to be “very difficult,” Thursday’s session was supposed to be an uneventful meet-and-greet followed by a dinner of “thumbelina carrots and New York strip steak washed down with Californian Chardonnay.”
In typical fashion, during the dinner, Trump said that he wants the US to have a “very, very great relationship with China.” Later he accepted Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit China “with pleasure,” China’s official Xinhua news agency reports.
But the dinner took on an entirely difficult level of significance after Trump announced that he had ordered a military strike against the Syrian government, launching 60 cruise missiles in 60 seconds at a Syrian airbase believed to have been used by bombers that dropped chemical bombs on civilians earlier this week.
According to AFP, Trump notified the Chinese president about the strike beforehand — which likely came as a surprise to Xi. At the United Nations, China, along with Russia, has long voted against sanctions and interventions in Syria.
Experts believe that the strikes may even have been timed to send a message to the Chinese president.
“China’s president cannot but conclude that Trump is a US president who is decisive and willing to use American power, including military power,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Washingon-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies
That could include a willingness to use military power to address conflicts that arise in Taiwan, the South China Sea, and, of course, North Korea. Earlier this week, Trump ominously vowed that “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
The bombing complicates and overshadows an already “very difficult” summit between the two leaders with more substantial talks on a variety of issues set to begin early on Friday. Looks like it’s time to add a new chapter to the Art of the Deal.
[Images via NetEase / ChinaNews]
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