At a secretive gathering of the Chinese Communist party’s most senior officials, a room-full of middle aged men in dark suits convened under a gold hammer and sickle and raised their hands in unison to declare president Xi Jinping the country’s “core” leader.
The meeting last October elevated Xi to a level comparable with that of the country’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong – and demonstrated just how successful the president has been at consolidating his control of the world’s most populous country.
This week Xi will travel to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a meeting that will set the tone for one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships.
But in stark contrast to Xi’s unchallenged authority, Donald Trump is in a far weaker position, with his administration entangled in investigations into alleged ties with Russia and unable to deliver so far the policies he promised.
The US president will also need to reassure longstanding allies, including Japan, South Korea and Australia, who are wary of China’s rapid rise and have relied on the US to counter China’s influence in the region.
‘China is stable, the US is divided’
“Trump’s team is very anxious, they are facing a lot of resistance at home with Congress and protests,” said Zhang Haibin, a professor of international relations at Peking University in Beijing. “The two leaders’ domestic political situation isn’t the same: Xi Jinping is ‘the core’ and China is very stable. Trump has yet to establish his authority in the US and is facing a divided society.”
Trump’s China strategy has yet to fully form, and the US administration is severely lacking in Asia experts, Zhang added.
Ahead of the…
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