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Trump in China: $250bln deals or gesture politics?

Thursday, November 09, 2017 - 01:55

President Donald Trump can return to the United States claiming to have snagged over $250 billion in deals from his maiden trip to Beijing. Whether those deals live up to the lofty price tag is another question altogether. David Pollard reports.

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High-worth handshakes in Beijing .... As Boeing, General Electric and others do deals worth a nominal 250 billion dollars. With, from Donald Trump, words his Chinese counterpart might see as priceless ... On one of the biggest issues between them: the trade deficit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "I don't blame China ... Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit." China spoke on another issue .... (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING SAYING: "The business environment for investment of foreign companies, including U.S. companies, will become increasingly open, transparent and standardised." Grand words that might, analysts say, be out of sync with reality. China's exports to the US rose in October - its trade surplus, though down from September's record, still at nearly 27 billion dollars. With mid-term election pressure at home, Trump could soon ramp up his anti-China rhetoric again. While many of the deals are non-binding. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "I don't think we should read too much into the announcement today. It's very much a set piece announcement." And as for China's promise of greater transparency .... (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "There is a balancing act to strike between trying to protect Chinese corporate interests and trying to keep international partners, and the US being the most important, on side. I think it's going to be one of a very gradual evolution rather than a radical move." Even so, a quarter of a trillion dollar price tag may enhance Trump's reputation back home as a dealmaker. Though his bid to get China to cut financial ties with North Korea - a former ally - is thought likely to fail. Amid questions over whether this visit is a genuine breakthrough in relations - or what the cynics would call gesture politics.

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Trump in China: $250bln deals or gesture politics?

Thursday, November 09, 2017 - 01:55