President Xi Jinping must be thanking his lucky stars that, at the moment of his rise to total power in China, a man as weak and clueless as Donald Trump is president of the United States.
On his maiden voyage to Beijing, the projected high point of his 12-day trip through Asia, Trump teetered somewhere between a joke and a disgrace from an American perspective—and an unbridled godsend from Xi’s.
On Thursday, in a joint appearance with Xi, in front of American business leaders, Trump repeated his long-standing charge that U.S.-Chinese trade relations are “very one-sided and unfair,” but, in a new twist, he quickly added, “I don’t blame China. Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.”
Trump has long expressed the belief that the world is in turmoil, and America is weaker than it once was, because our leaders have been “stupid.” As a tycoon who negotiated shrewd real estate deals, Trump believed—and campaigned on the promise—that, as president, he would negotiate shrewd trade deals that his predecessors couldn’t. In this context, his remark on Thursday seemed to suggest that, while the Chinese had been able to “take advantage” of other presidents, they’d find him to be a sharper counterpart.