Trump’s meeting with China’s president: U-M experts can discuss

March 31, 2017
Debing Su


President Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping April 6-7 at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Experts at the University of Michigan can discuss this meeting.

Mary Gallagher, professor of political science and director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, conducts research on Chinese politics, comparative politics of transitional and developing states, and law and society.

“The meeting next week between President Trump and Xi Jinping is unlikely to lead to a major shift in US-China relations or significant progress on contentious issues, such as North Korea or the South China Sea,” she said. “However, the meeting may reveal answers to two critical questions.

“First, will Xi be able to develop a good personal relationship with Trump, as Prime Minister Abe of Japan did on his visit to Florida? Second, what will this meeting reveal about the internal divisions in the White House between the anti-globalists, like Navarro and Bannon, and pro-trade officials like Cohn. Who’s winning the battle over U.S. trade policy?”

Contact: 734-615-9154,

John Ciorciari, associate professor of public policy at the Ford School of Public Policy, is an expert on Southeast Asia and examines foreign policy strategies, human rights and the reform of international economic institutions.

“The importance of this meeting lies more in small talk than big-power diplomacy, ” he said. “The question is whether Trump and Xi can learn how to communicate and develop enough mutual respect—if not trust or affection—to help them manage the many points of present and future tension between them.

“In the lead-up to the meeting, many anxious brows will be furrowed, anticipating what the two leaders will say about flashpoints like Taiwan, trade, North Korea and the South China Sea. Signs of contention on these issues may dominate the media coverage at Mar-a-Lago and overshadow any public efforts at conciliation. But barring a major feud, what matters most is what each president takes away privately: ‘Can I work with him?’ Perhaps more than any other relationship, this one will affect the entire globe.”

Contact: 734-615-6947,

Linda Lim, professor of strategy at the Ross School of Business, is interested in U.S.-China trade relations, the need for domestic economic and financial reforms, and China’s changing economic role in the world.

“There are many contentious issues in bilateral economic relations between the world’s No. 1 (U.S.) and No. 2 (China) economies, especially the Trump team’s insistence that China practices ‘unfair trade’ through ‘currency manipulation,’ trade barriers and subsidies, and his threat to impose large tariffs on imports from China,” she said. “For its part, China has been pulling back on its foreign direct investment in the U.S.—which would create or preserve U.S. jobs—while continuing to frustrate U.S. and other foreign companies with regulatory and other barriers in its huge domestic market.”

Contact: 734-763-0290,