Six years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the United States on a work trip and, as part of his agenda, stopped by Mar A Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate. It was there that Xi and Trump shared a Desert Island cake, deepening a newly-forged bond between the two world leaders.
Today, President Xi Jinping is once again visiting the United States, but the reception he is receiving is much different. After the last six years of heightened tariff disputes and trade disagreements, relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated markedly.
The current state of the U.S.-China relationship was made evident when President Trump declined to meet with President Xi in person, instead opting to send a lower-rank delegation to host talks in Washington. The atmosphere is in stark contrast to the camaraderie displayed in 2014, when the two Presidents shared dessert in a friendly manner.
The current diplomatic tensions have cast a pall over the U.S. economy, and the tensions have added further uncertainty to the already volatile stock market. Consequently, the pressure is on for President Xi to make his trip a success and to begin to repair the relationship between the two countries. However, President Trump and his administration have continued to issue vocal criticism of China’s policies, even during the week of President Xi’s visit.
President Xi’s trip may prove to be a success if he is able to make progress towards a more collaborative and beneficial bilateral relationship between the United States and China. But it remains to be seen if the current tensions between these two nations show any signs of abating in the near future. It is clear that the Desert Island cake enjoyed at Mar A Lago in 2014 may have been symbolic of better days between the two countries, but those days are very distant now.