Asia Minute: Chinese Diplomacy Scores in Asian Meetings

Nov 14, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Donald Trump has been traveling in Asia for nearly two weeks – wrapping up the last day of his trip today. His final stop was the Philippines, following the APEC leaders’ summit meeting in Vietnam. And while a lot of publicity from those two gatherings revolved around Trump, it was also a critical week of diplomacy for China. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

China took a different approach from the United States when it came to the pair of recent leaders’ summits in the Asia Pacific.

For starters, the government leadership split the work.

President Xi Jinping took center stage in Vietnam at the APEC leaders meeting—and also in bi-lateral meetings with leaders from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

Xi also met with the leader of Vietnam—which has been one of the most vocal critics of China’s actions in the South China Sea.

And the Chinese president spent more than two hours on the sidelines of the APEC meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who told reporters upon his return home that it was one of the two most important meetings he had in the country—the other was with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the Philippines, the Chinese delegation was led by Premier Li Keqiang.

He had a follow-up meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe as well as a series of other bi-lateral meetings.

That meeting with Abe got some coverage in the Japanese media. Kyodo News wrote the “unprecedented meetings with both Xi and Li in such a short period of time is a sign of improving relations.”

China also left the Philippines meetings with a positive note on a potentially explosive issue, agreeing with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to begin to discuss a code of conduct in the South China Sea.