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World leaders try to decode Trump

Merkel spending hours studying interviews or video recordings of US President

Image Credit: AP
Several hundred pro-Trump and anti-Trump demonstrators gather at a rally at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington, on Saturday, March 4, 2017.
Gulf News

Dubai: So how exactly does any foreign leader and their government figure out how to deal with US President Donald Trump?

If you’re German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it’s spending hours studying interviews or video recordings of the president. If you’re the Chinese government, it’s ramping up military spending and talk tough.

Merkel has agreed to visit him in the White House on March 14 – a key meeting between the most-senior European leader and a man who termed her policy of accepting a million Syrian refugees as “insane”.

Trump has also been a vocal critic of Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and Merkel will host the US President when the G20 leaders gather in Hamburg in July.

That G20 summit will also likely be the first occasion when Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Yesterday’s Xi’s government announced a boost of 7 per cent in its defence spending. Beijing and Washington are diametrically opposed when it comes to the South China Sea, and the US President has ordered a carrier group into the seas near the artificial islands developed and militarised by Beijing.

Yesterday, China’s prime minister warned the world is entering a period of profound political and economic upheaval, firing a rhetorical broadside at Trump.

“In the face of profound changes in the international political and economic landscape, China will always stand on the side of peace and stability, will forever be committed to equity and justice, and will always work for world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold the international order,” Li said.

“We will ... oppose protectionism in its different forms [and] become more involved in global governance.”

Trump has antagonised Beijing by tearing up long-standing policies over Taiwan and withdrawing from a pan-Pacific free trade deal.