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World watches as Trump, Xi meet

UNITED States President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping are meeting in Florida Thursday (Friday, Manila time) on a wide range of issues with the whole world watching. The meeting is of special interest to us in the Philippines as the decisions they will reach on pending economic, political, and security issues are bound to affect us.

There are sensitive economic issues between the two countries, which are now the world’s top two economies. During his election campaign, Trump accused China of manipulating its currency to gain trade advantage and he threatened to impose a tariff on Chinese imports. Economic growth, with more jobs for the American people, is at the center of Trump’s plans for America, but it may be leading to protectionism that is bound to affect us. It has been reported that Xi may come to Florida with some economic gifts such as Chinese investment in a manufacturing venture in the US.

Of utmost concern to China is world recognition and acknowledgement of “one China.” But right after his election, President Trump accepted a phone call from the president of Taiwan, which China considers a break-away province.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson subsequently suggested that China be barred from the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.

Then there is North Korea’s continued testing of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles which, it has repeatedly declared, will be capable of reaching the US mainland. One of these test missiles landed on the East Sea close to Japan, while another landed in the Pacific, close to our Batanes, placing the Philippines in the frontlines in any outbreak involving North Korea. President Trump said he will ask President Xi for help – China being North Korea’s principal ally – but if China won’t help, he said, the US will act against North Korea on its own.

These and other issues are expected to be taken up at the two-day meeting of President Trump and President Xi at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. We hope that they will able to reach agreement on the host of issues before them, especially those which affect and involve us – on Trump’s efforts to build up the US economy, on the South China Sea, and on the nuclear threat from North Korea.

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