When Business Speaks Louder Than Public Rhetoric

Despite differences, US President Trump’s visit to China earlier this month resulted in trade deals worth 143,203 billion FCFA.


The United States and China differ on a number of burning international issues like the huge bilateral trade imbalance at the detriment of the US, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue, tensions in the South China Sea, alleged human rights violations by China, etc. But when US President Donald Trump met President Xi Jinping during his maiden official visit to China from November 8-10, 2017, it was time to talk business – with no belligerent posturing by Trump.

In fact, the American leader left China with a near 90-degree turnaround impression of the very nation he had made the habit of publicly criticizing since taking up office last January. In all, 50 major trade deals worth 253.5 billion US dollars (143,203 billion FCFA) were signed between Chinese and American firms. These included energy deals and the purchase of US chipsets and soybeans. Boeing Company and China Aviation Supplies Holding signed a deal for the supply of 300 planes.

Companies from the two countries also agreed to cooperate on a liquefied natural gas project in Alaska, USA, worth 43 billion US dollars (23,638 billion FCFA) and a shale gas demonstration project valued at 83.7 billion US dollars (46,012 billion FCFA). America’s three major car makers – General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler – produced and sold over 5 million vehicles in China last year, more than their total sales in the rest of the world (not including the US), President Xi disclosed. He said Chinese investments have created more than 140,000 jobs in the United States.

Days after the visit, China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Yu Jianhua, said the business deals reached with the United States significantly exceeded the 253.5 billion US dollars announced in public. He explained that many other deals reached separately involved complex, big-ticket contracts such as chemical and energy imports, which took months or even years of negotiations to complete.

“The trip showcased positive interaction between the world’s top two economies, and a healthy and stable growth of China-US relations will help the two better coordinate on the world stage…There is no need for zero-sum competition. Through political wisdom and creativity, the two countries can forge a new type of relationship,” a commentator in the official Xinhua News Agency wrote during Trump’s visit to Beijing.

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