US President Donald Trump has said he will get down to some “very serious business” with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping when they meet next week for their first summit.
“Next week, as you know, in Florida at the southern White House, we’re having the president of China and a large group from China, his representatives, and we’re going to get down to some very serious business,” Trump told reporters at an Oval Office ceremony to sign executive orders on trade.
On April 6 and 7, Trump and Xi would meet at the President’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, often described as the ‘Southern White House’.
“We look forward to it (meeting with Xi). I’ve spoken to him numerous times on the phone. We look very much forward to it,” Trump said.
At his daily news conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the meeting with President Xi would be a difficult one.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody in terms of we’ve got both national security issues in terms of our political posture towards North Korea, the threat of a missile that extends further and further, the tests that they’re using, their nuclear capability. Those should all be very concerning,” he said in response to a question.
“Then on the trade front, we’ve got serious concerns with what they’re doing, our trade practices with them, some of the things that were mentioned in the past. There’s a lot of areas that we need to be concerned about with trade,” he said.
Spicer said it would not be like a “sit around and play patty-cake” kind of conversation between the two Presidents and they would discuss “big issues”.
“The President has been making it very clear for decades, frankly, of the challenges that we face. And I think he wants to have a very good and respectful and healthy relationship,” Spicer said.
“But he also wants to make sure that he tackles the challenges and the problems that are facing American workers and American manufacturers and get to them,” he said.
Meanwhile, US Commerce Secretary William Ross has alleged that China is one of the most protectionist country in the world.
“My view is that the United States is about the least protectionist of the major countries, and that China is one of the most protectionist,” he was quoted as saying by media reports.
“There’s an inherent clash between those two, even though China uses a tremendous amount of free trade rhetoric. We’d like the rhetoric and the behaviour to become more congruent,” he said.
In a statement, Senator Bob Casey said he has consistently opposed bad trade deals and called for action against countries like China that “cheat” on trade.
“We have to crack down on countries that cheat and we must renegotiate bad trade deals,” he said.