Trump Cancels News Conference But Will Still Hold Dinner With China’s Xi


01 December 2018, 22:42


U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a planned news conference in Buenos Aires on Saturday, saying the timing was not right due to the death of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush at the age of 94. But Trump said he will go ahead with a dinner in the evening with Chinese President Xi Jinping, VOA news reports.

“He was a terrific guy and he’ll be missed. He lived a full life and an exemplary life,” Trump said of the late president. He did not respond to a reporter’s question about whether he regrets his past criticism of the 41st president, and his son, George W. Bush, who was the 43rd president.

“The fact that we lost a president really puts a damper on it,” Trump said of Saturday evening’s dinner.

Over their meal, following the conclusion of the G-20 leaders’ meeting here, Trump and Xi who will be joined by only a small group of advisers are to discuss trade and other matters, the president told reporters during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It’s a very important meeting,” Trump said.

Among those expected at the dinner is trade policy adviser Peter Navarro, seen as the most hawkish member of Trump’s team when it comes to economic issues with China.

Many major business leaders in both the United States and China are hoping for some sort of truce or partial deal in what is seen as an escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Despite months of complaints by the United States and it imposing tariffs on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, Beijing “has not fundamentally alerted its unfair, unreasonable, and market-distorting practices,” according to a report issued by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Observers fear that if no progress is made at the Trump-Xi dinner then the U.S. president will make good on his threat to double the amount of Chinese goods facing punitive taxes and escalate tariffs to a 25 percent level at the start of the new year.

China, in response, is threatening to impose taxes on an additional 5,000 types of American imports worth about $60 billion.

“I think the worst of it is that the conflict between China and the U.S. is again showing the limits of multilateral institutions, in particular the World Trade Organization,” Roberto Bouzas, an international relations and economics professor at the Universidad de San Andres, tells VOA.

In its communique on Saturday at the conclusion of the leaders’ summit, the G-20 called for reform of the WTO to improve its functioning and the group would review progress made by the trade organization at next year’s summit in Japan.