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Trump and Xi had 'positive and productive' meetings about North Korea and the economyby Julia Boccagno
People

UPDATE April 7, 9:03 p.m. EST:

According to a White House press statement, President Trump and President Xi had "positive and productive meetings." It said the the two discussed the "urgent" threat of North Korea's weapons programs,  international rules that govern the East and South China Seas, as well as the need to protect human rights "and other values deeply held by Americans."

It continued, "President Trump noted the challenges caused by Chinese government intervention in its economy and raised serious concerns about the impact of China's industrial, agricultural, technology, and cyber policies on United States jobs and exports."


UPDATE April 6, 8:09 p.m. EST:

President Trump shared brief remarks during the dinner with Chinese President Xi. Appearing more relaxed than previous visits by foreign dignitaries, Trump jokingly said he and Xi had a long discussion, but "so far got nothing."

He continued by thanking Xi for visiting and declared that the two will have a great relationship in the long term.

UPDATE April 6, 6:44 a.m. EST:

The meeting between President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China comes as American views of China grow increasingly positive. A  Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday finds 44 percent of Americans have a favorable view of China, compared to 37 percent in 2016. 

Trump has promised to make the trade deficit a focus of the meeting with Xi, but the percentage of Americans who found the trade deficit a major issue has fallen from 61 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2017, Pew found. 

The same poll found that China's human rights record was more of a problem to older Americans. 53 percent of those 50 years old and older saw China's human rights record as a very serious problem, while just 38 percent of 18-29-year-olds agreed.  Overall, 47 percent of those surveyed said the human rights record was a "very serious problem."

The most widely agreed-upon issue with China was how much American debt it held, with 60 percent of respondents calling it a "very serious" problem and 29 percent calling it "somewhat serious."

ORIGINAL STORY: President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China will meet face-to-face for the first time since the 45th-commander-in-chief took office earlier this year. The two heads of state, who share a complex relationship, are set to meet at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday. 

It's impossible, of course, to predict Trump's behavior in general, but it's likely that topics such as international trade, the economy and North Korea will infiltrate the diplomatic conversation, according to media reports. 

Trump predicted that the meeting will be "difficult."

Standing up for human rights

Exiled Chinese dissidents are calling on President Trump to address a largely contentious issue among Chinese and American officials: human rights abuses. China, which has been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party for more than six decades, has a lengthy track record of cracking down on a wide range of fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion, according to Human Rights Watch. 


There have been modest improvements to the human rights situation in the authoritarian state. For example, authorities in 2015 reduced the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty from 55 to 46 as well as issued directives guaranteeing students with disabilities "reasonable accommodation" in university entrance exams. However, the trend for human rights under Xi's leadership continues in a "decidedly negative direction."

WATCH | Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, previews Trump's meeting with Xi.

According to the Associated Press, a number of former political prisoners spoke before a congressional commission days after Trump had a phone call with President Xi in February. Though he reassured loyalty to the "One China Policy" -- an agreement that recognizes China as the sole government in the country--he didn't discuss the country's human rights situation. Many expressed concern that the American president isn't interested in advocating for civil liberties in a communist-ruled nation.

Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled leader of the Muslim Uighur minority, said during the congressional commission, "Any sign that the United States is ready to relinquish its commitment to raising human rights concerns in favor of achieving policy gains elsewhere will be a victory for China."

Human rights advocates aren't the only ones pressuring Trump to address China's human rights record. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on Trump to confront Xi about the largely-disregarded topic.

“It is imperative that the president raise the plight of political prisoners and human rights activists by name,” he  said in a statement to McClatchy this week. 

However, Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, doesn't expect Trump to bring the issue up. 

“Thus far, the Trump administration does not seem very interested in human rights issues,” said Sophie Richardson, China's Director for Human Rights Watch.

Trump's rocky relationship with China policy

The president has long condemned China on Twitter--going all the way back to 2012.

Remarks made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, however, are quashing anxiety among those who believe that the Trump administration isn't willing to address Chinese human rights.

“I made clear that the United States will continue to advocate for universal values such as human rights and religious freedom,” he said on a trip to Beijing last week.

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