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Trump vs. China: A Timeline

Donald Trump has always talked a big game when it comes to China. But how has he actually dealt with Beijing since taking office? Here’s a rundown of his major interactions with the Middle Kingdom.

December 2, 2016Trump speaks with the president of Taiwan by phone. China protests, but pins the blame on Taiwan.

December 11: Trump says the U.S. may abandon the “One China” policy. Beijing expresses “serious concern” about that possibility.

February 9, 2017: Trump speaks with Xi Jinping by phone and agrees to stick with the “One China” policy.

February 10: Trump backs Japan on the defense of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. China denounces the move, warning of harm to U.S.-China relations.

February 23: Trump reiterates that China is a currency manipulator. China denies it.

March 17: Trump tweets that China has “done little to help” resolve North Korean aggression.

April 6-7: Trump meets Xi at Mar-a-Lago. Both sides are pleased about the meeting; Trump says “tremendous progress” has been made.

June 20: Trump tweets that while “China tried” and he “greatly appreciates” Xi, their efforts to resolve the North Korea problem have not worked out.

July 5: Trump denounces China on Twitter for trading with North Korea. “So much for China working with us!”

July 30: Trump tweets he is “very disappointed in China” after North Korea test-fires another missile.

August 12: Xi Jinping reportedly calls Trump, urging him to tone down the rhetoric after he said that North Korean threats would be met with “fire and fury.”

October 6: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. will continue diplomatic efforts with North Korea, but Trump tweets that Tillerson is “wasting his time negotiating with little Rocket Man.” Chinese diplomats are reportedly confused by the mixed messages.

November 8-9: Trump lands in China for his first state visit. He says he “doesn’t blame China at all” for its trade surplus and urges Beijing to “work hard” on North Korea.

November 10: Trump criticizes China for its trade surplus at the APEC summit, seemingly contradicting his message from the day before. Xi responds in his own speech, saying that globalization is irreversible and that free trade needs to be more open and balanced.

November 15: China frees three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting after Trump intervenes directly with Xi on their behalf.

What will 2018 hold?

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