The presidents of the United States and China have agreed to take a stronger stance against North Korea for its development of nuclear weapons, while also opening new channels of trade between the two countries.
Key to this economic relationship will be $250 billion in new deals between U.S. companies and Chinese firms, the two leaders announced before reporters at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Thursday.
There, United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President XI Jinping applauded as business leaders between the two nations signed trade deals on electronics, aircraft and soybeans among other goods. Business leaders from the U.S. included representatives from Boeing, Ford and Goldman Sachs.
“China and U.S. are the two largest economies and big engines of global growth,” Xi remarked. “We need to strengthen cooperation, pursue stable and balanced economic and trade relations.”
NPR’s Scott Horsley, who is traveling with President Trump during his five-nation visit to Asia, says the former real-estate mogul thanked Xi for taking major strides in curbing North Korean aggression including suspending coal exports from the North and severing ties with banks operating there.
“We have a chance to strengthen ties and improve the lives of our citizens and stand together against those who threaten our civilization,” Trump said. “As long as we stand together, that threat will never happen. Doesn’t even stand a chance.”
Still, there are several issues Washington and Beijing need to address. Among them is China’s ever-growing presence on the disputed South China Sea. China claims virtually the entire area. It has also been establishing artificial islands and militarizing the region to the dismay of several Asian neighbors who also lay claims to parts of the South China Sea. Among those neighbors are other countries Trump will soon be visiting including Vietnam and The Philippines.
In the past, the U.S. has sent several warships to the region to defend freedom of navigation.
But Xi argues, “The U.S. and China are countries with important influence in the Asia-Pacific. As I said to the president, the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both of us.”
Trump also says he and Xi have enjoyed “great chemistry.”
But this newfound cooperation is in stark contrast to the stance Trump took during his presidential campaign run, when criticism of China was key to his platform. He previously accused China of being currency manipulators that boosted exports by weakening the renminbi compared to the U.S. dollar. However, Trump has since said he’s changed his mind on that issue.
Xi emphasized that while the two superpowers have major differences, there still are major opportunities to be “mutually reinforcing.”