Donald Trump’s lavish praise of Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the US president’s ongoing Asia tour indicates more than a shift in diplomatic strategy between the two countries, according to commentators - it points to a shift in power.
While Xi Jinping has elevated himself to become the most powerful Chinese leader since Communist Party Mao Zedong, Trump’s approval ratings have hit historic lows.
Economically, as well as politically, Xi is in the driver’s seat. China’s total trade surplus with the US for 2017 is expected to reach $250bn (£190bn), Bloomberg reports.
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“Trump will try to project strength while calling for closer cooperation on North Korea and on resolving trade disputes. But he arrives at a moment when China, not the US, is the single most powerful actor in the global economy,” says Time magazine.
Trump - who once called China an economic “enemy” whose trade relationship with the US amounted to “rape” - is taking an uncharacteristically diplomatic stance with the Chinese government during his 12-day Asia trip.
After signing new business deals worth $250bn (£190bn) with Xi today, Trump said: “I don’t blame China [for trade imbalances]. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.”
The New York Times says the US is “ceding global power to China”, a view shared by a number of political analysts.
“In May 2016, Donald Trump promised a lot of winning... He turned out to be right. We just didn’t know at the time that the ‘Mr President’ he was talking about was President Xi Jinping of China,” Brian Klaas, a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, writes in USA Today.
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