The widely anticipated summit between the world’s two most powerful men defied all earlier expectations. Instead of a clash of titans, or a newfound bromance between the protagonists, the world witnessed a surreal melange of fine dining with Tomahawk missiles flying into the sky.
The Syrian crisis managed partly to overshadow the whole affair. Shortly before his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, United States President Donald Trump ordered his generals to punish Syria’s Assad regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians. It was one of those rare moments when the flamboyant American leader decided to rely on deliberate and low-key consultations with military experts, rather than indulging in his characteristic chutzpah and bravado.
But Trump and Xi had tough and extensive discussions on a whole range of issues. It seems the superpowers decided to agree to disagree for now, opting for a more institutionalised interaction to manage areas of conflict, particularly on North Korea and trade, and expand areas of cooperation.
For Trump, China has been a favourite punching bag to rally his Jacksonian base. In fact, many would argue that pouncing on the Asian juggernaut was Trump’s ultimate launching pad to the presidency. It allowed the controversial plutocrat to reach out to disaffected blue-collar workers in the very swing states, which handed him the presidency, though not the popular vote.
The past few weeks haven’t been good to Trump. Aside from historically low trust ratings, he has been reeling from back-to-back defeats, first on a series of controversial travel bans that were…
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