President of United States of America, Donald Trump arrives here for a G20 summit Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping — and their eye-for-an-eye trade dispute — at the top of his dance card, a scheduled talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin below it and a possible encounter with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman not yet penciled in.
The two leaders are set to break bread as the U.S. is poised to increase levies on a range of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent on Jan. 1, with Trump threatening to tax China across the board and Beijing positioned to retaliate.
This week, Trump told The Washington Post that he wants to force China to make concessions to the U.S., but is perfectly happy to walk away from the table.
“I think we’ll either make a deal or we’ll be taking in billions and billions of dollars a month in tariffs, and I’m OK with either one of those two situations,” he said.
Speaking last week, Trump agreed it was a big moment. “I’m very prepared. I’ve been preparing for it all my life,” he said. China “wants to make a deal and we’re very happy with that”. Officials in Beijing were more cautious.
Xi and Trump have met before. During a Beijing state visit last November, Trump praised his Chinese counterpart, saying the two enjoyed “great chemistry”. But the mercurial US leader seemed to change his mind about his chum when he imposed trade sanctions, complaining of a lack of a level playing field. After initially welcoming Xi’s help, Trump later claimed Beijing was undermining his attempts to get North Korea to denuclearise.